Christmas Names

December 26th, 2011

Ever wondered what you would name a child if they were born on or near a major holiday?  Would you go with a themed moniker, just because the birth seemed so auspicious?

If I were to give birth *tonight*, I’d be sorely tempted by one of these.  I think I’d have to go with Balthazar or Gaspard for a boy and maybe Helena Hermione for a girl.  Alliteration gets me every time (but I have yet to use it in a name).

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!  Hope it’s been a wonderfully merry one.


Names related to the Holy Family and the birth of Jesus:

Balthasar, Balthazar- One of the Magi

Casper, Gaspard, Jasper- While he doesn’t appear in the Bible, this is also said to be the name (here in several versions) of one of the three wise men

Christian, Christine, Christina, Christopher, Christabel (girl) and Cristobal (boy) – Followers of Christ

Emmanuel for a boy, or Emmanuelle, for a girl

Epiphany- For the celebration just following that commemorates the visit of the Magi

Estelle, Estella, Esther, Etoile, Seren, Stella- All have meaning related to “star”

Evangeline- “Spreader of good news”

Eve- For the night before

Jesus, Yeshua

Joseph, Josepha, Josephine (also cognates Giuseppe and Jozef)

Maria, Mary- The mother.  Miriam is also etymologically linked to this name

Melchior- The third king to visit Jesus

Micah – He foretold that the birth of Jesus would be in Bethlehem

Natalia, Natalie- Derived from natal which means “birth”, Natale is the Italian word for Christmas; Natasha is an Eastern European nickname for Natalia

North- After the guiding North Star?


Theodore/a, Dorothea, Dorothy- “Gift of God”

Virginia- There are any number of names that represent the Virgin Mary. Plus you can say to her, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”


Names connoting light:


Clara- Also the little girl in the Nutcracker, who in some versions is referred to as Mary or Maria; her brother is Fritz

Eleanor, Eleanora, Leonor, Lenora, Nora


Lucia, Lucian, Lucius, Lucy, Lux, Luz


The Angelic:

Angel, Angela, Angelica, Angelika, Angelina

Gabriel- Angel who broke the news to Mary that she was pregnant; Gabriella,Gabrielle

Hermione- “The messenger”

Malachi- “My messenger” or “my angel” in Hebrew

Michael- Another of the seven archangels, and a good choice if your loved one is away in battle, as he is patron saint of soldiers

Serafina, Seraphine- From the highest order of angels, the seraphim, and with the slightly ironic meaning “fiery”


Names that recall the spirit of the season:

Faith, Fidelity

Felicia, Felicity and Felix

Gloria, Glory



Merrily, Merry



Meaning “dove”, the symbol of peace:






Paloma, Palma





Celyn- Welsh for “holly”








(Mistletoe and Poinsettia are other possibilities, though I can’t get behind either one)


Related to the season, as it is in the northern hemisphere:

Bianca, Blanca- “White” in Italian, Spanish

Blanche- French for “white”

Eira- Welsh for “snow”

Lumi- Finnish for “snow”

Neige- “Snow” in French

Nevada- “Snow-capped” in Spanish

Nieves- “Snow” in Spanish





Yuki, Yukiko- Japanese, “happiness + snow”, and “happiness + snow + child”

Yule- Winter festival


For Posterity:

Bell, Belle

Carol, Caroline


Claus, Nicholas, Nicola, Nicole- For jolly old St. Nick


Drummer – Blogger Katie Dill put this on the scene when she named her seventh child for the little drummer boy

Ebenezer, Eben

Noel, Noelia, Noelle



This post is dedicated to my friend Bek and the new baby due any minute, baby Betsy, and all the other late December babies of the world.   My article of names for a Christmas babe was previously run in slightly different form at Nameberry.  

U.S. County Names

July 5th, 2011

I tried I did try to get this post up for everyone on the 4th of July!  But alas, the beach was calling, so we can celebrate this great country on July 5th, and every day.

City names populate nearly every classroom.  There are Madisons who hail from Texas and Austins who hang their hat Wisconsin.  But the inspiration goes further than that– state parks, rivers, lakes.

Has anyone ever looked at counties for fresh ideas?  I collected one from each state that piqued my curiosity.  Some are named after famous figures in history, others go back to native languages, still more originate as place names elsewhere — but all are rarely used on United States birth certificates, and easily could be.  (I have no idea if these are particularly beautiful or desirable places to live mind you, but we welcome reports if you know them!)

Think about place names as you travel cross country this summer.  I urge you to watch for signs at every exit ramp and county line, and please report back any great finds!


Marengo – Alabama

Kenai - Alaska

Gila – Arizona

Searcy - Arkansas

Yuba – California

Chaffee – Colorado

Tolland – Connecticut

Sussex - Delaware

Pasco – Florida

Lowndes - Georgia

Kauai - Hawaii

Bonner – Idaho

Gallatin – Illinois

Boone – Indiana

Adair - Iowa

Sumner - Kansas

Meade – Kentucky

Sabine - Louisiana

Somerset – Maine

Allegany – Maryland

Norfolk – Massachusetts

Ionia – Michigan

Isanti – Minnesota

Calhoun – Mississippi

Mercer – Missouri

Fergus – Montana

Thayer – Nebraska

Storey - Nevada

Merrimack - New Hampshire

Bergen – New Jersey

Socorro – New Mexico

Seneca – New York

Durham – North Carolina

Emmons – North Dakota

Guernsey – Ohio

Sequoyah – Oklahoma

Morrow – Oregon

Cambria – Pennsylvania

Kent – Rhode Island

Calhoun – South Carolina

Sully – South Dakota

Roane – Tennessee

Medina - Texas

Summit - Utah

Caledonia - Vermont

Wythe – Virginia

Whitman – Washington

Mingo - West Virginia

Oneida - Wisconsin

Laramie – Wyoming


Did you use the map as inspiration for your child?  Was it a special place to you, or did you just like the sound?  Are there any names in your area you’d like to see on a human being?

Image from my home town in Travis County, Texas

Jesus Peeps

Whether Easter to you means Peeps and Cadbury or sin and salvation, there is a name here for you.  Even if you celebrate Passover too!

I cannot tarry-  dresses to iron and (yes) eggs to dye.  Whoops.

Happy Day!


Agnes, Agnella- Related to agnus, Latin for lamb.  Agnella is “ahn-YELL-ah”– more or less.

Anastasia- Greek, “rebirth.”

Aviva- Hebrew for “Spring.”  Meshes delightfully with both Ava and Hannah.

Beatrix- Beatrix Potter, the ultimate illustrator of bunnies, is intimately connected to the animals.  The name’s meaning is appropriate: “blessed bringer of joy.”

Butterfly- While I don’t suggest penning “Butterfly” on the birth certificate, you might want to check out an old post on Butterfly Names.  This animals metamorphosis is often used to symbolize the transformation of Jesus.

Daffodil- A lovely flower associate with this holiday, its beginning might remind some of “daft” when used on a person.  But if Daphne can get away with it…

Daisy- Perfectly sweet.

Dorothy- Greek, “gift of God.”  Due for a comeback.

Easter- As a given name, Easter would still manage to cause a stir, and why not?

Evangeline- Greek for “good news”, now symbolic of spreading the gospel of Christ.

Fleur- French for flower, a good all around springtime choice.

Flora, Florence-  Flora is the Roman goddess of flowers, Florence is a derivation.

Gloria- Gloria in Excelsis is always sung at Easter.

Lily- A true symbol of Easter, and of purity.  A modern classic.

Lucy, Lucia, Lux- From the Latin for light, this represents eternal life.

Luna- Rather than fall on a specific Sunday of the year, Easter follows a lunar cycle.

Magdalena- “Of Magdala.”  Mary Magdalene was present at the crucifixion

Marguerite- The French for “daisy.”

Mary, Maria- Debated meaning, “bitter” or “of the sea.”  Magdalene was one of three Marys present.

Octavia- “Eighth.”  the week after Easter is known as the second octave.

Oona- Irish, “lamb.”

Ostara- Old German, described by Jacob Grimm as “the goddess of radiant dawn”, and the etymological source for what we know as Easter.

Palma- The palm of Palm Sunday makes a nice name in this form.

Pascale, Pasqua- Pasqua is the Italian translation for Easter.  Pascale is an oft heard version in France.

Penelope- May come from the Greek word penelops, a species of duck– a perrenial favorite.

Primavera- In Italian literally, “springtime.”

Renata, Renée- Italian and French respectively, both for “rebirth.”

Salome- Aramaic form of the Hebrew “Shalom”, or peace.  The good one discovered Jesus’ empty tomb.

Susan, Susannah, Shoshannah- Hebrew variants which mean “lily.”

Tamar- Hebrew, “date palm.”  A current sound meets ancient history.

Theodora- Greek, “gift of God.”

Tulip- Spring flower that’s getting a bit more attention as a name, though not always positive.

Willow- In Scandinavia, children offer willow in exchange for candy.

Zoe- Greek, “life.”


Ambrose- Greek, “immortal.”

Aviv- Hebrew, “spring.”

Benjamin- Hebrew, “son of the right hand.”  Benjamin Bunny is one of Miss Potter’s famous bunny rabbits.

Birch- Decorative symbol in Norway symbolic of the onset of Spring.

Christian- Follower of Christ.

Croix, Cruz- French and Spanish for “cross.”  The Beckhams began an epidemic when they named their third child Cruz years ago.

Emmanuel- Hebrew, “God is with us.”  Another name for Jesus– not everyone agrees on the appropriateness of this one.

James- English form deriving from the Greek for “supplanter”, a disciple.

John- Hebrew, “God is gracious.”

Joseph- Hebrew, “he will add.”

Nicodemus- Greek, “victory of the people.”   He helped Joseph entomb Jesus.

Octave, Octavian- see Octavia, above.

Owen- Welsh, from Owain for “lamb.”

Pascal- From the Latin Paschalis, which relates to Easter.

Peter- Greek origin, “the rock.”  The rabbit and Jesus’ right-hand man.

Renato, René- Italian and French for “rebirth.”

Simon- Hebrew, “he has heard.”  Two Biblical figures have this name:  Jesus’ friend who he renamed Peter, and the man who carried the cross.

Theodore- Greek, “God’s gift.”

Jewish Ceremony in Israel


Please jet over to Pamela Redmond Satran’s article The Big Baby Naming Battle at The Daily Beast.  She breaks down the great debate over the rising use of Cohen as a first name, among Christians and other folks.  It’s a must-read.

Names for Earth Day

April 22nd, 2009


Milkvetch.  Wallflower.  Toothwart.  


Yes, the Earth is indeed a wellspring for baby names. 

Actually I skipped those.  Here are a few favorites culled– believe it or not– from endangered species lists.  Morbid as that may seem, I promise they’re quite nice!  Famous conservationists and a few other notables help bring it back down to Earth I’d love to see Audubon or Fossey as firsts or to meet an all-American infant Sigurd.  

Truly though, the names are of minor importance.  Gasp!  The most we can hope for is that our children do better than we did.  


NOTE:  This post is simultatneously appearing at Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran’s wonderful, where I am a guest blogger.  If you haven’t done so already, please enter their contest to guess the top 10 names for boys and girls for 2008.  Be the first to guess correctly and you could win four amazing books including and advanced copy of their brand spanking new Beyond Ava and Aiden:  The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby.  Think the 2008 changed radically?



John James Audubon

Rachel Carson

Jeff Corwin

Jacques Cousteau

Dian Fossey

Buckminster Fuller

Jane Goodall

Julia Butterfly Hill

Steve Irwin

Aldo Leopold

Chico Mendes

John Muir

Frederick Law Olmstead

Sigurd F. Olson

Peter Simon Pallas

Henry David Thoreau




Anona- Roman goddess of the harvest

Avani- Sanskrit, “earth”

CeresAncient Roman, “to grow”, Roman goddess of agriculture

Demeter- Greek, “earth mother”, Greek goddess of agriculture

Flora- Roman goddess of flowers

Francis- Italian saint reknowned for his connection to animals

Gaia- Greek, “earth”, and the goddess of the earth

Georgia, Georgina, Georgianna- Greek, “farmer”

Kun- Chinese, “earth”

Luna- Roman goddess of the moon

Perpetua- Latin, “continuous”

Terra- Latin, “earth”

Zoe- Greek, “life”



Adam- Hebrew, debated meaning; man formed from the Earth

Asa- Hebrew, “healer”

Chayim- Hebrew, “life”

Enki- Sumerian, “lord of the earth”, god of water and wisdom

George- Greek, “farmer, earthworker”

Pax- Latin, “peace”

Vitus- Ancient Roman, from the latin for “life”

Zephyr- Greek god of the west wind



























































Earth, Eartha




Ocean, Oceane


Peter, Petra





…and finally Montana… much to the chagrin of Pam and Linda I’m sure.


Above:  Oil on paper painting by Elisabeth Wilborn (that’s me).  ;-)

Keisha, by Christopher Porche West

NOTE: This post is also airing today at the fabulous nameberry!  Thanks so much to Pam and Linda for having me guest post again.  Special thanks also to Christopher Porché West for his generosity in allowing me to use this portrait of the beautiful Keisha.


Today it seems only appropriate to focus on baby names that hail from the Louisiana Bayou. It’s Fat Tuesday, and these names are rich indeed.

An inspiration for everything from vampires to voodoo, zydeco to the Krewe of Zulu– Louisiana has been a colorful melting pot of divergent cultures for centuries.  Cajuns from Canada, Creoles and others of Haitian, African, Italian, Spanish, or Native American descent, all come together to form a mélange of backgrounds, and in point of fact, names.  Most share a history of French language and Catholicism, even if it’s not by blood.  While these may not be the choices in use today in the Bayou, they have been culled from historical documents, maps, and folklore from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries.  The majority are either French proper, or my favorite, Frenchified.  Still more trace their roots to Classical Greco-Roman civilization, deep Southern culture, or are somewhere farther afield and include a curious preponderance of the letter Z.

So come on.  Allez-y! Chew on these names (and some maque choux), prepare to bare all for those beads, and laissez les bon temps roulez!



Acadia- The word Cajun itself has its origins in Acadian






Ameline, Emeline


Avoyelles- This Cajun Parish might be picked up as a first name, piggybacking on the current Ava and Ellie love




Bernadette- A much beloved Catholic saint, and one of the prettiest songs in the native New Orleans Neville Brothers repertoire



Delphine- While Delphine is a lovely and lilting name, Delphine LaLaurie was a famous socialite and sadist who tortured her slaves

Dixie- Used to refer to the South at large, this may have originated in New Orleans on the ten dollar bill, upon which a local bank printed “dix”, the French for ten




Eugenie- Napoleon’s first love

Eula, Eulalie

Evangeline- An epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow recalling the 1755 deportation of Acadian Canadians to the newly Spanish Louisiana






Hiawatha- Another tale regaled by Longfellow, Hiawatha may not have been from the Bayou, but she had namesakes here


Josephine- Napoleon’s (second) love



Magnolia- The state flower of Louisiana

Mahalia- Mahalia Jackson is a gospel and blues singer from the area, with a name worth borrowing

Marie- Marie Laveau was a reknowned Voodoo Queen who was visited by slaves and owners alike





Minerva, Minnie



Ola, Olla Mae, Olima

Onezie, Onezime


Philomine, Philonese


Sabine- The Sabine River runs through in Louisiana


Tammany- Parish north of New Orleans



Zenobia (also spotted a Senobia)






Amos- Amos Moses is a song by Jerry Reed about a fictional one armed alligator hunting cajun man


Auguste, Augustin


Beau, Beauregard- Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was the most famous Civil War soldier from New Orleans and fought in the Battle of Shiloh;  his ghost is said to roam the streets of New Orleans whispering “Shiloh”, which means “place of peace”

Bernard- Parish east of New Orleans



Charles- Geographically, Charles is everywhere, from a street in NOLA to the western city of Lake Charles to St. Charles Parish in the east





Dagobert- Pere Dagobert was a well-respected 18th century priest who is still said to be heard singing “Kyrie” while keeping a watchful eye over the city of New Orleans.





Gustave- Though 2008′s Hurricane Gustav may have dampened enthusiasm for this one




Jean-Baptiste- Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded Nouvelle-Orleans in 1718

Jules, Julius

Landry- St. Landry Parish is home to many a Cajun

Leon, Leontel

LeRoy- Leroy is originally from “le roi” or, “the king”

Louis -Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima are both Louisiana natives




Philippe- The city was named for Philippe II, Duc d’Orleans

Pierre- Pierre Augustin Charles Bourguignon Derbigny was among Louisiana’s creole governors




Theodore, Theodule, Theophile, Theophilus


Nouvelle-Orleans 1726

Images Above:  1. Keisha, by Christopher Porché West  2. View & Perspective of New Orleans, 1726. Ink and watercolor by Jean-Pierre Lassus

Valentine's Day Baby Names

February 16th, 2009


You didn’t really think I was going to let a holiday go by without seizing the opportunity to talk about baby names, did you?

Valentine’s Day has had several incarnations over the past several thousand years.   While the origin is somewhat debated, it likely originated in Rome to take the place of Lupercalia, an Ancient Roman festival honoring the wolf Lupa who suckled Romulus and Remus.  Women were fed raw animal parts in an effort to make them more fertile.  The pope outlawed pagan Lupercalia, but kept the amorous spirit of the holiday when he declared February 14 to be St. Valentine’s day.  But who was St. Valentine?

When Emporer Claudius II saw that he had a disgruntled and homesick fleet, he outlawed marriage.  St. Valentine, who thought this practice was unjust, kept marrying couples in secret.  He was caught and imprisoned.  Grateful men and women passed him notes and flowers, and his last note passed out of the prison was said to be signed, “Love, Your Valentine.”  And so the tradition began.

Today the commercial aspects of the holiday have taken hold.  Despite it’s Hallmark status, it has always been and will always be one of my favorites.  Tiny surprise gifts in red and pink and traditional chocolates sprinkle our house with lots of love.  I was reminded how special it was again when we received lovingly crafted homemade valentines from my mother far away.  This time, they were for my daughter.  And so the tradition continues.

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day Everyone!!!   XOXOX


Ahava- Hebrew, “love”

Aiko- Japanese, “love, affection” + “child”

Amabel- English, from the Latin amabilis “lovable”

Amy, Aimée- Both from the Old French, amée, “beloved”

Amethyst- Greek.  Did anyone know that February’s birthstone means literally, “not drunk”?  These precious stones were thought to ward off inebriation.

Angela, Angelica, Angelina- Latin, “angel”, “messenger”

Annabel, Annabelle, Annabella- Originally arose as a misspelling of Amabel, see above

Aphrodite- Greek goddess of love who was born from the foam in the sea.  Aphros means foam in Greek.

Branwen- Welsh goddess of love

Cara- Italian for “beloved”; the Welsh caru also means “love”

Carys- Welsh, “love”

Cordula- Latin, “heart”

Esme- Scottish via Old French, meaning “esteemed” or “beloved”

Freya- Old Norse, “lady”; Norse goddess of love and beauty

Hermione- Greek, “messenger”

Janan- Arabic, “heart, soul”

Kerensa- Cornish, “love”

Kokoro- Japanese, “heart, soul”

Lakshmi- Sanskrit, “sign, luck”, and the Hindu goddess of beauty

Love- English, derived from lufu in Old English

Nayeli- Zapotec, Native American, “I love you”

Poésie- French, “poetry”

Posy- A diminutive of Josephine, but also a bunch of flowers

Priya- Sanskrit, “beloved”

Psyche- Greek, “to breathe” or “soul”; In Greek mythology, Psyche was Eros’ lover, and the envy of Aphrodite

Rosa- Italian for not only “rose”, but the color “pink”, making this doubly appropriate for this rosy holiday

Rose- Originally derived from Germanic elements hrod “fame” and heid “type” in the forms Roese and Rohese, and later associated with the flower

Tanith- “Serpent lady”; Phoenician goddess of love and fertility

Valentina, Valentine- Latin, “brave, valiant”

Venus- Latin, Roman goddess of love, passion, and beauty

Violet- Latin, from Viola, also symbolizing the flower for February


Amado, Amato- Spanish and Latin respectively, “beloved”

Amias- English, “friendship”

Archer- English surname, and the occupation of Cupid

Bard- A college and a surname of the same meaning, a poet or singer

Cupid- Latin, from cupido which means “desire”, this winged sex god morphed into an infant over time.

David- Hebrew, “beloved”

Erasmo, Erasmus- Greek, “beloved.”  St. Erasmus is the patron saint of sailors

Eros- Greek, “passionate love”, Aphrodite’s son and the predecessor to Rome’s Cupid

Habib- Arabic, “beloved, darling”

Hermes- Greek mythology, messenger to Zeus

Hubert- Germanic, “bright heart, mind”

Jedidiah- Hebrew, “beloved”

Lev- Hebrew, “heart”

Philo- Greek, “to love”

Red- English, usually given as a nickname to a person with red hair, beard, or complexion

Tadhg, Teague- Irish, “poet”

Valentine, Valentijn, Valentino- Latin, “brave, valiant”

The Year of the Ox

January 26th, 2009


Today we usher in the Chinese new year, the year of the Ox.  An appropriate symbol of hard work, steadfastness, and conservatism, you may wish to consider a name that reflects these qualities. The Ox is an Earth sign known for supreme intelligence, speaking only when necessary, and keeping to himself.  

For more Earth-bound ideas, please see Autumnal Names.  You can read about Chinese naming practices and suggestions for what might work well in both languages in Names for Your Chinese-American Baby.

Below are a few internationally inspired choices that might be appropriate for your ox stot:



Avani- Sanskrit, “earth”

Ceres- Ancient Roman, “to grow”, Roman goddess of agriculture

Demeter- Greek, “earth mother”, Greek goddess of agriculture

Gaia- Greek, “earth”, and the goddess of the earth

Georgia, Georgina, Georgianna- Greek, “farmer”

Hui- Chinese, “intelligent, wise”

Kun- Chinese, “earth”

Maha- Arabic, “wild cow”, which represents beauty

Millicent- From Amalswinth, “meaning work + strength” or “industrious”

Pratibha- Sanskrit, “light, splendor, intelligence”

Terra- Latin, “earth”



Adam- Hebrew, debated meaning; man formed from the Earth

Aqil- Arabic, “intelligent, wise”

Aristaeus- Greek, “the best”; son of Apollo, and a god of agriculture, hunting, and cattle

Byron- English, “place of cow sheds”

Daichi- Japanese,  ”large, great” combined with”earth, land” or ”wisdom, intellect”

Enki- Sumerian, “lord of the earth”, god of water and wisdom

George- Greek, “farmer, earthworker”

Gopala- Sanskrit, “cow protector”

Gotama- Sanskrit, “the best ox”

Hugh, Hugo- Germanic, “mind, intellect”

Kun- Chinese, “earth”

Minh- Vietnamese, “bright, intelligent”

Selby- English, derived from Old Norse meaning “willow farm”

Sothy- Khmer, “intelligence”

Warwick- English, “dam farm”; pronounced WAHR-ik

Volos- Slavic mythology, the god of cattle; derived from volu meaning “ox”



Christmas seems to arrive sooner every year.  Once again, I am running frantically to cross things off the list, get the baking done, trim the tree (first we have to get that tree…), and find the ever elusive Christmas stockings before it’s too late.  Some may have bigger –or smaller– things on their minds this season.  An impending birth, perhaps?  If your new child shares a birthday with the most famous baby in the world, you may be tempted to incorporate the season somehow into their name.  There’s a lot more to holiday baby naming than Nicholas and Noel.  Here are a few ideas that might help broaden the list:


Names related to the Holy Family and the birth of Jesus:

Balthasar, Balthazar- One of the Magi

Casper/Gaspard/Jasper- While he doesn’t appear in the Bible, this is also said to be one of the three wise men

Christian, Christine, Christina, Christopher, Christabel (girl) and Cristobal (boy) - Followers of Christ

Emmanuel for a boy, or Emmanuelle, for a girl

Epiphany- For the celebration just following that commemorates the visit of the Magi

Estelle, Estella, Esther, Seren, Stella- All have meaning related to “star”

Eve- For the night before


Joseph, Josepha, Josephine (also cognates Giuseppe and Jozef)

Yeshua- Other versions of the name Jesus

Maria, Mary- The mother.  Miriam is also etymologically linked to this name

Melchior- The third king to visit Jesus

Natalia, Natalie- Derived from natal which means “birth”, Natale is the Italian word for Christmas; Natasha is an Eastern European nickname for Natalia

North- After the guiding North Star?

Theodore/a, Dorothea, Dorothy- “Gift of God”

Virginia- There are any number of names that represent the Virgin Mary.  Plus you can say to her, “yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”


Names connoting light:


Clara- Also the little girl in the Nutcracker, who in some versions is referred to as Mary or Maria;  her brother is Fritz 

Eleanor, Eleanora, Leonor, Lenora, Nora


Lucia, Lucian, Lucius, Lucy, Lux


The Angelic:

Angel, Angela, Angelica, Angelika, Angelina

Gabriel- Angel who broke the news to Mary that she was pregnant; Gabriella, Gabrielle

Hermione- “The messenger”

Malachi- “My messenger” or “my angel” in Hebrew

Michael- Another of the seven archangels, and a good choice if your loved one is away in battle, as he is patron saint of soldiers

Serafina, Seraphine- From the highest order of angels, the seraphim, and with the slightly ironic meaning “fiery”

Names that recall the spirit of the season:

Faith, Fidelity

Felicia, Felicity and Felix

Gloria, Glory



Merrily, Merry



Meaning “dove”, the symbol of peace:









Celyn- Welsh for “holly”






(Mistletoe and Poinsettia are other possibilities, though I can’t get behind either one)

Related to the season, as it is in the northern hemisphere:

Bianca, Blanca- “White” in Italian, Spanish

Blanche- French for “white”

Eira- Welsh for “snow”

Lumi- Finnish for “snow”

Neige- “Snow” in French 

Nevada- “Snow-capped” in Spanish

Nieves- “Snow” in Spanish





Yuki, Yukiko- Japanese, “happiness + snow”, and “happiness + snow + child”

Yule- Winter festival


For Posterity:

Bell, Belle



Claus, Nicholas, Nicola, Nicole- For jolly old St. Nick


Noel, Noelia, Noelle

Rudolf  ;-)


I wish you all the best if you are naming your little one this Christmas.  A great name is one of the best gifts you can bestow.  It’s a start, anyway.  Happy Holidays!


For more comments on this article and other name news, please refer to, where we are simultaneously publishing this post today!  Nameberry is the brainchild of the mothers of modern baby naming, Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran, authors of Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana, The Baby Name Bibleand Cool Names for Babies.

Summer Solstice

June 20th, 2008



Summer has officially arrived, I’d like to be the first to extend a giant *Welcome.* I’d like also of course, to usher her in with a new set of baby name possibilities.  If commemorating the season in which your summer baby is born appeals, here are some ideas, both classic and off-beat.  Whether you draw from the long sunny days, beach vacations, or a birthstone, there are practically endless possibilities.  Saints Days are also an option, and I post the upcoming week’s list every Sunday.  When you’re done here, please go to Appellation Mountain’s thoughts on the subject.  

Now we’re off to the park to celebrate a birthday with potluck and good old fashioned wiffle ball.  Hope you are enjoying your summer.



Alexandra, Alexandrine- Greek, “defender of mankind.”  Alexandrine is sometimes listed as a birthstone for June

Anona- Latin, goddess of the harvest

Apolline, Apollonia- “Stength”; Female version of the Greek Apollo, the god of the sun, and far more usable in this form

Augusta, Augustine- Latin, “great, venerable”;  might be a nice nod to the month of August

Dagmar, Dagny- In Old Norse, “dag” names are related to “day”, appropriate since the days are long this time of year

Eloise, Heloise- French; possibly originating in the Greek helios meaning “sun”

Haruko- Japanese for “sun child”

Helen, Helena- Greek for “torch”, also “light”

Julia, Julianna, Juliet- The feminizations of Julius, for whom the month of July was named

June, Junia- From the month of June and the Roman goddess Juno, queen of the heavens

Lavender- In Provence, June is the month when the Lavender blooms

Leona, Leonie, Leontine, Leonora- If your baby is a Leo, these might be viable first or middle name options

Liberty- English, well-suited to an Independence Day baby

Lucia, Lucienne, Lucy- From the Latin lux ”light”

Margaret- English, from the Greek margarites meaning Pearl.  Margarita also works as a themey double-entendre

Marina- Originally Greek, Marina is used in many languages and means “sea” for those lucky enough to be there

Marisol- Spanish combination of Maria and Sol “sun”

Natsumi- Japanese natsu ”summer” and mi ”beautiful”; also from na “vegetables” and tsumu “pick”

Ondine- French, from the Latin unda meaning “wave”

Ora- Hebrew “light”

Pearl- June’s birthstone

Poppy- August’s flower, though they bloom in May

Rose- The flower of June, a hardy and lovely flower in the sun

Ruby- July’s birthstone

Sita- Sanskrit, “furrow”, Hindu goddess of the harvest

Sol- Spanish for sun

Soleil- French for sun, recalls the actress Soleil Moon Frye, an intrepid baby namer herself

Solstice- With word names like Story and Ever all the rage, this one struck me as a pleasant-sounding possibility

Solveig- Norse combining sol “sun” and veig “strength”

Summer- A name that’s had its day in the sun

Sunniva- Norwegian “sun gift”

Suvi- Finnish “summer”

Svetlana- Slavic “light”

Theresa- Greek theros “summer”

Vera- From the Albanian verë for “summer”

Virginia- If your wee one comes toward the end of summer, you may wind up with a Virgo, making this related name particularly apt;  note that the state, Virginia, was named for the Virgin Queen, Queen Elizabeth I



August, Augustus- Latin, “great, venerable” after the Emporer Augustus, for whom the month was named

Cyrus- Biblical, may be related to the Persian khur, meaning “sun”

Haru- Japanese “sunlight”

Horus- Egyptian mythology, god of light

Hyperion- Greek mythology, the titan who presided over the sun and light

Julian, Julius- Latin, “downy-bearded”; July was named after Julius Caesar, and so might your child be!

Leo, Leonard, Leonardo, Leonidas, Leopold- If your baby is born under the sign of Leo, you have a multitude of options should you be stuck

Luke, Lucian, Lucius- From the Latin lux for “light”

Mehrdad- Persian “gift of the sun” 

Prakash- Sanskrit “light”

Ra- Egyptian mythology, god of the sun

Ravindra- Sanskrit, “Lord of the sun”

Roshan- Persian “light, bright”

Samson- Hebrew, possibly meaning “sun”

Somereld- Scottish “summer traveler”

Surya- Sanskrit, Hindu god of the sun

Wekesa- East African origin, means “born during the harvest”


Above Image: August, from the Très riches heures du duc de Berry