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The story of Thanksgiving spans nearly four centuries and features a large cast of characters, from the very well known, like Miles Standish and George Washington, to those sometimes neglected, including such Native American participants as Massasoit and Squanto. Here, the Thanksgiving names that might be perfect for a late November baby.

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There’s no sweeter pleasure than serenading your baby with a lullaby, which can even be nicer if the song’s title references the sweetness of your daughter’s (or son’s) name.  An amazing number of songs fit this bill, dating from the early days of the republic to the Golden Age of jazz and swing, right through to contemporary rock— from the barbershop quartet harmonies of Sweet Adeline to the Rolling Stones’ rendition of Sweet Virginia. Most of these songs have lyrics you can actually croon, while just a few are instrumentals you can set your own words to.

Here they are:

ADELINESweet Adeline is an old standard that was a favorite of barbershop quartets.  JFK’s grandfather John F. Fitzgerald, mayor of Boston, made it his theme song, and Mickey Mouse serenaded Minnie with it in a 1929 cartoon.  Sweet name Adeline reappeared on the pop list in 1999, and is now Number 288.

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Thanksgiving Names:From Myles to Maize


This year our menu of Thanksgiving names draws on a variety of sources—from the Mayflower passenger list to prominent Pilgrims, to a harvest deity to the bounty of the Turkey Day table.  Enjoy it— with it comes our best wishes for a very happy holiday to all our dear berries.

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In The Nameberry 9 blog this week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel, addresseses the question of “What is a ‘normal name?”

The news was filled with so-called normal names this week.  But what defines a normal name?  Is it a Top Ten choice that plenty of people your age share?  Or are normal names the ones that remain in popular use for decades?

Singer Ne-Yo insisted that his son’s name is fit for a gentleman, and I wouldn’t argue – it’s a great name.  But it is also a name that seems poised for the Top Ten, meaning that some perceive him as trendy, a cousin to Jayden and Aiden.

A widely-discussed report trumpeted the demise of Mad Men names, citing Don and Betty as examples of the most endangered appellations in all of nameland.  There’s some truth to that, but it is equally true that plenty of names are enduring classics, the kind of choice that makes it difficult to pin down a child’s year of birth.

Normal changes, at least when it comes to given names.  The endangered name list included plenty of perennial favorites, and that leads us right to our nine most newsworthy names this week:

James – The buzz about poor Betty and Don being so out of fashion included a list of others supposedly on the brink of extinction, like James – a name never out of the US Top 20 – and William, currently in the US Top Ten.  The boys’ list was packed with timeless choices, including David, Charles, and Thomas.  Maybe you won’t name your next son Roger, but many of us would consider one of the names on their so-called watch list.

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It’s a lovely place name starting with the fashionable V and carrying a rich history, so why has Virginia faded from view while other classic names have held their own? Last year, for example, there were close to 13,000 new little Elizabeths and only 564 Virginias. So what’s the problem with Virginia? Is it the fear of playground taunts via virgin and also a certain female body part? The dated sounding nickname Ginny? The harsh reverberations of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Whatever the issues, I think they’re outweighed by other, more positive, factors. First, there’s the history. Virginia is a venerable name that dates back to ancient times, coming from Verginus, the name of a Roman clan, its derivation related to the Latin root for springlike, flourising. which is from the Latin word virgo, meaning maiden or virgin.

The first known bearer of the name was the beautiful daughter of a Roman centurion whose death led to a revolt that resulted in the protection of the rights of the common people–a righteous legacy. In this country, the first English child born in America parents was christened Virginia Dare, Sir Walter Raleigh had called his newly founded colony Virginia, in honor of Elizabeth the Virgin Queen, and little Miss Dare was given the name for the same reason–an early example of a name originating in America and spreading to other parts of the world.

Though the whole Roanoke colony, including Virginia, disappeared, her name has lived on in books, songs and films, as well as a number of commercial products. The name got a recommendation from none other than Benjamin Franklin who, when asked by the Marquis de Lafayette if he could presume to give his daughter the name of one of the United States, replied, “Miss Virginia, Miss Carolina and Miss Georgia will sound prettily enough for girls.”

Later, Virginia became part of a catch phrase when a little girl name Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the New York Sun questioning the existence of Santa, which inspired an editorial containing the deathless words, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” Strangely enough, O’Hanlon’s birthname was Laura, but she chose to go by her middle name of Virginia.

Virginia enjoyed a sudden burst of popularity around 1870, which lasted through the 1950s; it was in the Top 10 for 25 years, from 1912 to 1937, hitting a high of #6 in 1921, when there were 19,000 baby VIrginias in their cradles. Virginia has such distinguished namesakes as British writer Virginia Woolf, has been the subjects of songs by groups ranging frm The Rolling Stones to The Foo Fighters, and has appeared as a character in any number of movies and TV shows.

And its nicknames aren’t limited to Ginny. Also possible are Genia, Gigi, Gina, Ginger, Vee, Virge, and Virgie.  International variations include the Spanish Ginia and Ginata, the French Virginie, and the Hawaiian Wilikinia.

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