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How To Hold a Baby Blessing Ritual

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In a powerful scene in the landmark miniseries Roots, his jubilant father holds the infant Kunta Kinte up to the sky, and says, “Behold, the only thing greater than yourself.” In the same miniseries, many years later, the adult Kunta Kinte does the same thing with his own child, despite the fact that they are thousands of miles from his homeland.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

Here's How:

  1. In many cultures, it is traditional not only to bless a new baby but also to present them to the gods of the family. Although the gods of the household have probably been aware of the imminent new arrival, it’s a good idea to perform a more formal presentation. By incorporating this ceremony with a baby’s blessing, the child is joined to both the earth and the heavens at the same time. This should be done fairly soon after the baby’s arrival, so that the gods of the home can begin forming a relationship with the new family member.

  2. You may choose to do this in tandem with a naming ceremony, or have it be a separate celebration. It is up to you whether you‘d like to have guests present or not -- many families see the time when a baby comes home as a time in which privacy is valued, while for others it is a time of family gathering. Go with whichever option works best for your family‘s needs. If you‘d like some peace and quiet after bringing baby home from the hospital, have the blessing ceremony be for the parents and siblings only, and then invite family and friends to a naming ceremony later on.

  3. Ideally, you can offer the baby for blessing by the household gods as the child enters the home for the first time, but realistically you can do it any time that the whole family is up for it.

    Stand outside your home, on the front step, holding the baby. Everyone present should hold hands -- parents, siblings, etc. -- and surround whoever is holding the baby. Say:

    Gods of our home, gods of our hearth,
    today we present you with someone new.
    She is a member of our family,
    and this is her new home.
    We ask you to welcome her,
    we ask you to love her,
    we ask you to protect her,
    we ask you to bless her.

  4. Have a cup of water, wine, or milk at the door. Before entering the home, pass the cup sunwise around the group. As each person drinks, they should say:

    Welcome baby, to our home.
    May the gods love you as much we do.

    Once the cup has made the rounds, touch a drop of the liquid to the baby’s lips.

  5. Open the door, and step inside. Go to the family altar or shrine, and circle it. Again, have everyone hold hands, surrounding whoever is holding baby. Say:

    Gods of our home, gods of our hearth,
    today we present you with someone new.
    She is a member of our family,
    and this is her new home.
    Watch over her as she grows.
    Watch over her as she lives.
    Watch over her with love.

  6. Pass the cup one more time, each person offering the blessing as they sip. Once the cup has returned, touch a drop of liquid to the baby’s lips. Leave the cup on the altar overnight as an offering to your household’s guardians. In the morning, take the cup outside the front door, and pour anything that’s left onto the ground, as an offering to the spirits of the outdoors.

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