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Ceremonies: Birth

Jewish boys are circumcised on the eighth day after birth (even if this is the Sabbath) by a mohel (professional circumciser). They are named at their circumcision ceremony. Baby girls are named in the synagogue on the first Sabbath after their birth. Many girls will also have a celebration of their birth known as a simchat bat.

In most Christian churches soon after birth, Christian babies are named and baptised (sprinkled with holy water by a priest) in church, recalling the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. A close friend or relative may be appointed 'godparent', helping the child's religious upbringing. Boys do not have to be circumcised.

Muslim babies are named on the seventh day after birth, and boys usually circumcised then (or later). A feast is held and donations made to the poor. When a Muslim baby is born, the call to prayer is whispered into its ear, so the first word the child hears is 'God'.


Coming of age

Jewish boys enter adult life at 13, gaining the title bar mitzvah (son of the commandments), when they become a full member of their religious community and take on the obligation to fulfil the commandments. This may be marked by a ceremony and family celebration. In Orthodox Judaism girls come of age at 12, and will often have a bat chayil (daughter of worth) ceremony to celebrate.

In Christianity, some young adults   though already baptised   decide to undergo a further church ceremony called Confirmation, to demonstrate their faith. Like baptism, this can be done at any age.

Jewish and Muslim boys are circumcised

Boy at bar mitzvah