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June 30, 2006

Anishinabek Naming Ceremony

The cartoon strip For Better or For Worse this June has been highlighting the young teacher character, Liz, who is facing the difficult decision of leaving her teaching job in the rural town of Mtigwaki (Land of Trees) to return to the city to be near her family. Ultimately she decides to come home, but the community has accepted her, and they decide to send her off with a naming ceremony, which is traditional in Ojibwe culture.

There's more on the naming ceremony here. Here is a summary of the Objibwe ceremony, from the FBFW website:

The Naming Ceremony gives us our "Spirit Name" which gives us recognition with the spirit world. It is said that it is easier to find the name for a young person because the name is close by - as the child has just come from the spirit world. As you get older, however, your name drifts farther away and is more difficult to find...Four male and four female sponsors who stand by the person being named in the ceremony have the responsibility of walking alongside this person during his or her life. They act as advisors or confidants through good times and bad, and publicly vow to support and guide the person being named. The Spirit World, hearing the name, then accepts and can recognize the face of the child as a living thing for the first time. The Spirit World and the ancestors then guard the child and prepare a place for him or her when their life ends.

This reminds me a little bit of formal Hebrew naming ceremonies that occur on the 8th day after birth at the bris (for boys), or in the synagogue (for girls). During the naming ceremony, the parents explain why they have chosen that name for the child, and the mother and child are blessed.

Posted by sedda at June 30, 2006 08:01 AM