Naming and birth rituals

One of the first activities in all societies is giving a name to a baby. In some cultures, parents choose the name but in others, naming is an important ceremony conducted by elders and followed by feasting. Cultures vary considerably in the way they decide on names: children might be named after the dead, according to birth order, based on events, according to biblical or religious characters, or even celebrities. Whatever the origin, a name carries a lot of meaning and it is a lifelong form of identity. The umbilical cord is so significant in some cultures that a baby will not be taken outside the house until it breaks off. Some cultures in Africa expect the mother to jealously protect the umbilical cord after it breaks off because it is used by elders to prove the true belonging of a baby to a clan. In Buganda, a tribe in Uganda, newly born babies are washed with herbs (kyogero) rather than soap for the first month. The reason is to give a baby a smooth skin, avoid rashes and for the child to be blessed with luck for the rest of the its life.

Childhoods – tradition and change

The role of work