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This week, Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain finds lots of family ties in the names in the news.

The big trend in baby name news this week?  It has to be borrowing a name from your family tree.

Once upon a time, it might have been expected that your firstborn son was a junior, or maybe shared his name with grandpa.  In other places, family surnames were handed down along with the silver. 

These days, there’s less pressure than ever to choose heirloom names.  And yet we’re still inclined to honor our loved ones.

Other parents aren’t passing down family names, but they are coordinating their children’s names.  Sometimes it is a shared first initial; other times, the theme is more subtle.

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Happy 3rd Birthday to Nameberry!

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You know you’ve been around a while when you forget your birthday.  The third anniversary of Nameberry’s launch, earlier in October, came and went without any of us realizing it.  But now that we have, we want to pause and take stock of how far we’ve come with the help of all you wonderful berries over the past three years:

Number of visitors: Nearly 12 million

Number of page views: Almost 90 million

Number of countries populated by berries: All of them.  Even you, Chad!

Most-read blog: Baby Names 2011: The Hottest Trends, with nearly a million readers.

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norse

As Thor thundered onto multiplex movie screens last week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel was inspired to check out the other gods in the Norse mythology pantheon.

Even if you haven’t hit the multiplex lately, you’ve probably heard that the hammer-wielding Thor is winning critical acclaim and drawing in crowds.  Could the movie inspire parents to look north to Norse mythology names for baby name inspiration?

After all, we’ve borrowed from Greek and Roman mythology for generations.  From classics like Diana to current favorites like Luna, there’s no shortage of appealing options.  Pierce Brosnan has a son called Paris, and Chris Noth named his firstborn Orion.

Norse mythology names are not as well known, and many of them are awkward in English.  (Frigg would be downright cruel, no matter how noble the figure.)  Most of the list below comes from the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, two compilations dating to the thirteenth century, but including much older oral traditions.

The movie is based on Marvel Comics’ superhero version of Thor, not the literary works.  It takes some liberties with the original storyline, like transporting the god to New Mexico.

Whether you’re a fan of the comic or looking for a name that celebrates your Scandinavian heritage, there are some interesting possibilities to be found.

GIRLS

Astrilde – Invented in the sixteenth century invention as a Norse equivalent of Cupid, she’s not part of the original pantheon, but appears in plenty of poems.

Atla – A minor water goddess.

Edda – Several theories explain why Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson chose to name his collection the Prose Edda.  One of the most popular theories is that it comes from a Latin phrase meaning “I compose.”  The Edda Awards are Reykjavik’s answer to the Oscars.

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