We all have a name, chosen for us by our parents … it may be a reference to someone special in their lives, it may be a name that they have heard and liked or it might be a reference to a character in a book or film.
As we grow up, the name that was chosen for us becomes our name and is subject to our alteration. Some people have a pet or nickname that refers to a characteristic or event.
Our friends adapt our name and sometimes it sticks – for most of my school life I was Sid, it came about as a malapropism and there are a few people who still call me by it. I am ambivalent – school days were not the happiest period of my life and I was delighted to leave Sid behind.
My Father called me Lulu or Cinders – those names cut me in half, I loved my Father deeply and I miss him to this day, the people that call me Lulu are part of that inner circle of love and trust.
A naming ceremony is a joyous event, the child is central to the day; a focus for the aspirations of those who love them. They say that it takes a community to raise a child. I understand that to mean that it is the collective responsibility of a community to look out for the child and their parents, to see that they are supported.
The children that I name will be loved and supported by their immediate family but also by their wider community. By having a celebration that encompassed all of the village and which was redolent with love and happiness and humour – they are assured of their place in that community.
What’s in a Name ~ Cindy Groves
|My Grandfather ~ Edward Nigel|
I will look at you and our eyes will meet,
recognition will spark and fizz between us.
You are as precious to me as the tiniest grain of gold,
I see our paths twisting together like strands of silk.
How do I name that depth of love?
What can I say that will show the world what you mean to me?
Can I name you for someone who has gone before;
that was their name and their place in my heart.
The tenderness I feel for you is new;
freshly minted and unique.
Should your name be grand?
Will your name be used by all who know you?
or will you be chosen for a special name, a pet name,
a name that is only yours; that marks you out –
you are unknown to us yet.
Will you be brave and strong or quiet and homely?
Will you rage against the world or skip sweetly through?
Should your name mark a place, a time, a moment?
Should you wear the badge of history or a well loved tale?
For now I will call you by a private name
a name that is ours in the dark of the night.
A name that thumps and bumps as you do in my womb
I will whisper your name as I sing to you
I will murmur your name as I stroke you, safe inside.
Your name is still unknown to me,
it will come in a rush, as you will.
A name that will mark you out as who you are.
A name that fits you like the softest shawl,
tucked around you, your name and your’s alone.
I wrote this poem a while ago for a friend in advance of the birth of her daughter. I wrote it in remembrance of the birth of my own children and the certainty that I felt for their names.
I love naming days, I love the rituals and symbolism and the coming together of family and friends.