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Naming Ceremony

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Lucky: So that's how the Naming Ceremony works? Dogs choose who and what they are?
Fiery: Yes. A name sums up a dog's character. That's why it's so important. It's vital for a dog to get it right, because it will define him all his life.

Everyone has a name, as do most things that we create, and naming things tends to be Serious Business. In the Western world, this is called a Christening, after the prevailing religion of the region, but the tradition is common to practically all cultures. For people or other sapient beings, this tends to be both a religious and civil matter, as well as a practical one; after all, parents can't call their children "baby" or "Junior" for their whole lives. In many cultures, this could be related to a Rite-of-Passage Name Change, where children in a culture receive their adult name after reaching a certain milestone.

With bridges, buildings, and other earth-bound structures, this often entails a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony; with ships, it tends to involve smashing a fifth of Dom against the hull. In all cases, expect a bit of pomp and ceremony, as well as a Standard Snippet of music that the culture associates with such naming ceremonies.


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     Comic Books 
  • Damnation Crusade: The comic follows a young savage named Raclaw as he undergoes initiation with the Black Templars, a battle-brother of that Chapter named Gerhart, and a dreadnought named Tankred. When his noviciate ends and he becomes a full Space Marine, Raclaw asks to take the name of his ex-mentor, Gerhart. We don't see another ceremony, but there was probably one when he's interred in a dreadnought and hereafter known as Tankred.

    Fan Works 
  • In Scars of War, it's mentioned that baby ponies get renamed in a ceremony. Their adult name doesn't necessarily relate much to their original name. For example, Baby Dash became Dabble.
  • Chasing the Rainbow: Upon reaching adulthood, ponies are given a new name and a new coloring in a special naming ceremony.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Unlike canon, the Crystalling ceremony in chapter 3 of the fourth story, The Diplomat's Life, contains an announcement of Princess Flurry Heart's name.

  • Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series. Children are given their True Name by a wizard in a special, private ceremony. Sparrowhawk receives his in A Wizard of Earthsea.
  • Discworld:
    • Played for Laughs in Carpe Jugulum, where, due to the rule of whatever the priest says becoming their name, the crown princess of Lancre ends up with the name Esmerelda Margaret Note Spelling (which is a huge improvement over James What The Hell Is That Cow Doing In Here? Poorchick and King My God He's Heavy the First). The Note Spelling came from the fact that her mother, Queen Magrat, got her name because it was what her barely literate parents wrote down for the priest to name their daughter, and he read it as it was spelled.
    • Reaper Man has One-Man-Bucket — he came from a tribe with a tradition of naming children after the first thing the mother saw after the child was born. Thanks to his ancestors moving to the big city, he wound up with One-Man-Pouring-A-Bucket-Of-Water-Over-Two-Dogs. His twin brother, born a few seconds earlier, "would have given his right arm to be named Two-Dogs-Fighting".
  • In The Wheel of Time, Seanchan nobility take new names as they change their status, and often these names come from the royalty in a short but poignant ceremony. The new names are often based on prior names (princess Tuon becomes Empress Fortuona) or references to prophecy or the character's unique traits.
  • In Warrior Cats:
    • When kittens reach six moons of age, the entire clan gathers to cheer them being inducted as apprentices and gaining the suffix -paw instead of -kit.
    • When apprentices finish their training and are accepted as full warriors, the leader gives them their warrior name, a more personalized suffix than the universal -paw or -kit, which makes them a full adult in the eyes of the clan.
    • Medicine cats, being somewhat above the politics between clans, gather amongst themselves to give an apprentice their name at the end their apprenticeship, with the rest of their clans only being told it when they return.
    • Leaders have a somewhat surreal dream experience, where the spirits of their ancestors visit them while they sleep to ritually give them the suffix -star.
  • Deryni have a magical ritual they call Naming, in which Deryni children who have reached the age of reason (knowing right from wrong, usually around age seven or eight) get a second private or secret name. In the novel Childe Morgan, Alyce Morgan and her fraternal twin sister Vera McLain conduct a joint Naming ritual for her son Alaric and his cousin Duncan McLain when the boys are four. Before it ends, King Donal Haldane joins in and uses the occasion to implant arcane instructions in young Alalric's mind.
  • In The Wolf Chronicles, there is a small naming ceremony when pups are named, and this signifies that the pack is pledged to protect the pup: if a pup is not expected to survive, it might not be given a name until later, if at all. Ázzuen is one such example: he was the only one of his litter to not receive a name, but he is given one later: the name of his grandfather, who was a great warrior.
  • The Free Dogs (and wolves) in Survivor Dogs have a naming ceremony that pups must undergo in order to receive their adult names. It's generally done when a pups back teeth have grown in. It involves a ritual where a White Bunny is caught on a full moon, the carcass is skinned, the pups sit on the "Moon Pelt", and then the pack howls at the moon. After the ritual is done, the pups are asked to chose their new names.
  • In Bravelands, lion cubs receive their adult names after they've shown a trait being named after. This usually occurs when they're a few months old.
  • At three months old, kittens in Tailchaser's Song are given their "face name" (in contrast with their "tail name", given at birth by their mothers) in a ceremony. Their face name acts essentially as a surname and is the name they're referred to by almost everyone.
  • In The Cold Moons, badger cubs are named at six moons.
  • Earth's Children: If a baby born to the Clan lives past seven days, a ceremony is held where they are named and formally welcomed into the Clan by the Mog-ur (holy man). The Mog-ur also meditates to determine the child's totem animal and during the ritual the totem is also announced, with the Mog-ur painting the totem symbol onto the child using red ochre.

     Live-Action TV 
  • On Dinosaurs, the Sinclairs go to the Chief Elder to get the baby named. Unfortunately, the Chief Elder suffers a fatal heart attack in the middle of the ceremony, and the baby gets the name Augh Argh I'm Dying You Idiot Sinclair. Interruptions that become names have apparently happened before, as there are mentions of characters like Fran's cousin Atchoo and Burp Excuse Me Siegelman. In the end, the new Chief Elder names the baby... Baby.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) has a christening ceremony for the Colonists' new stealth Viper, named Blackbird. President Roslin pretends she's going to smash the traditional bottle of champagne against its fragile hull; the horrified fighter pilots are relieved and amused when she simply pops the cork instead.

  • BIONICLE had a minor holiday known as Naming Day, where certain Matoran were christened with renames in honor of their acts during the Bohrok crisis. The Doylist reason for the holiday was because of an early controversy surrounding the use of the Māori culture and names, which Māori activists criticized as being inappropriate. LEGO responded with a few renames as not to directly encroach on their language, which is why a majority of them happen to be alterations of spelling ("Huki" became "Hewkii", "Jala" became "Jaller", etc.).

     Video Games 
  • The prologue of Horizon Zero Dawn opens with Aloy's gaurdian, Rost, climbing a mountain with her as a baby and announcing her name at dawn.

     Western Animation 
  • Subverted in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season 6 premiere "The Crystalling". The titular ceremony has all the pomp of a royal Christening, but "the baby" princess isn't officially named until she meets her grandparents at the train station after the ceremony.
  • Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: The special "Kai-Lan's Great Trip to China" has an actual naming party held for the baby panda Kai-Lan and her party encounter, which the panda must be present for in order for his name to be revealed. The panda's name is announced once they arrive at the party as Xiǎo Xīguā (Chinese for "Little Watermelon").

     Real Life 
  • The Confirmation, one of the seven Roman Catholic sacraments, gives an option for the person to adopt a new name, usually in the name of a saint.
  • In Judaism, a boy's naming is combined with their circumcision ceremony (brit/bris milah), generally held at eight days old. With girls there are various customs which are generally less formal.
  • Under English (and other commonwealth) law, the process of legally changing a name (assuming the person in question isn't a minor) basically boils down to a written statement saying "My name was ___, now I go by ___" which is cosigned by a solicitor and can then be used as an official document. However, there is also the option of invoking this trope by having notice of the change published in The London Gazette (which makes it no more or less legally binding, but essentially serves as a downplayed ceremony).
  • Some European countries have civil naming ceremonies as a secular alternative to baptism.