In several European countries, the most beloved baby traditions revolve around the naming of the child. Since many of these countries are strongly Catholic or Protestant, children are usually baptized as infants. It is therefore not surprising that the naming is of the utmost importance, especially also since most likely most of the family will be present for this momentous event. To skirt around the possibilities of family squabbles and problems, several countries have developed rather rigid naming traditions to ensure that nobody will feel slighted if the firstborn is not named after their side of the family. In Greece, for example, a child quite frequently is named after the parents of the father. The French people have found that the middle name is useful for honoring grandparents, while the Spaniards go to great lengths not only with the first names but also the last names to honor their parents.
In America, the baby traditions also involve names, but this is more of a Native American custom than that of the rest of the country. Several Native American customs still in existence today showcase the importance that a name has for a child. Choosing a name for a newborn becomes a very important job that very often is not just left to the parents, but that may involve several close relatives from the tribe. After all, a child should live up to his name, and for this reason the name needs to hold as much hope, good wishes, and strength for the future as possible. Sometimes a child will have several names – one that is given to him at birth, and then one that is bestowed upon him during his preteen or teen years by the tribal leader. While the first name is given in hope the child will live up to it, the second name will be a strength which the child has exhibited and which has become a bit of his reputation.
The baby traditions in today’s mainstream American have crystallized a new tradition that seems most strong in families where the mother’s and father’s name both begin with the same letter. Quite often these parents will go to great pains to give their children names that will also begin with this letter. Other times, parents who have more than one child will attempt to name their children in a way that every name either begins with the same letter or ends with the same letter. As you can easily see, these traditions - as well as the baby shower traditions that are used to make the mom-to-be feel very special before the child has even arrived - all showcase just how important the birth of a child is – not only to the immediate family, but also to friends of the family.