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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

I’m imagining next Christmas morning at Buckingham Palace.

Sure, it is a palace. Even the simplest room is probably chock full of history and priceless antiques.

The children opening presents might be members of the royal House of Windsor, but they will share their rather ordinary names with children throughout the English-speaking world.  The current generation includes the princely George Alexander Louis, but also three girls – Peter Phillips’ daughters Savannah and Isla, and now Zara Phillips Tindall’s new arrival.

Any of the extended Windsor family names could be overheard on local playgrounds almost anywhere.

Some called the Tindalls’ choice disappointing, hoping for a Eugenie or a Zara.  But it also speaks to the incredible freedom we enjoy when naming children in 2014.

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This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel investigates some of the factors affecting the shifts in names’ popularity.

Last week we wanted to write about babies named Mitt Romney and Sandy, and as it happened, the world gave us both.  Name nerds and regular folk alike respond to the idea that dramatic, world-changing events have an impact on what we name our children.

But while everyone else is confidently predicting an uptick in little girls called Sandra, berries know that the picture is far more complicated.  Besides, wouldn’t Sandrine or Alessandra be the more stylish option?

The truth is that the real shifts in names are rarely caused by a headline-grabbing event.  While it was easy to be distracted by tales of Kenyan twin brothers given the names Barack and Mitt, last week was also rich with stories that show longer-term change in how we think about the names we give our children.

Last week’s nine biggest names in baby name news were:

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Is It True? Sophia, Jacob New #1s!

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Nameberry exclusive!  Sophia and Jacob are the new Number 1 names, according to the headline of a press release posted briefly on the Social Security website and just as quickly taken down.  A sharp-eyed Berry alerted us to the possible leak.  The Most Popular Names 2011 announcement was supposed to have been made today, but was postponed until Monday morning on The Today Show.  But Nameberry may have just scooped NBC, thanks to our wonderful Berries! xxxx

And now on to our regularly scheduled program.  This year, Nameberry says Happy Mother’s Day by saluting the best baby-naming celebs who have become moms since last Mother’s Day–some for the first time, some not.  We’re staying away from the more extreme choices (so sorry, Mariah and Beyonce and Jessica), in favor of those that have shown an elegant sense of style, a degree of creativity–and in a few cases some ingenuity by unearthing some great buried treasures.

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Since roughly 1872, when the first Arbor Day was proclaimed, kindergarteners have been cutting out construction paper silhouettes of oak and pine trees and perhaps getting to plant a tiny sapling in the schoolyard. Nameberry hereby joins in today’s celebration by planting the seeds of the tree names worthy of bestowing on our children –ranging from the sturdy Cedar to the delicate Aspen.

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Nameberry Picks: Twelve Best Disney Names

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In early Disney cartoons, characters had silly, alliterative names like Horace Horsefeather, and Clarabelle Cow. The first character name to actually catch on with parents was Bambi–a male deer that became a popular namesake for girls. More recently, the real winners have been Princess names: The Little Mermaid’s Ariel reached #66 on the popularity lists two years after the movie’s release and Jasmine from Aladdin has gotten as high as #23.  Other Disney heroine names, like Belle (Beauty and the Beast) have also been boosted by their Disney connections.

Here are nameberry’s top picks of Disney  names that move beyond Nemo and Nala:

Adelaide—The dramatic Madame Adelaide Bonfamille is one of the few human characters in The Aristocats. When actress Rachel Griffiths picked the name for her daughter, she said she’d been inspired by the Australian city, Miss Adelaide in Guys & Dolls and, yes, the Disney character.

AuroraAurora was the name of the princess in the 1959 Sleeping Beauty, but is only now rising in popularity. In ancient mythology, Aurora was the lovely Roman goddess of the dawn, whose tears turned into the morning dew. In the Disney film, her alternate name was Briar Rose, a combination sometimes adopted by modern parents.

Bianca –Miss Bianca was an elegant mouse (voiced by Eva Gabor) in the 1977 The Rescuer. The Italian version of Blanche, this still somewhat exotic name was brought to prominence by the first Mrs. Mick Jagger, and features in two Shakespeare plays. Actress Tia Carrere chose it for her daughter.

Eudora – This name of Tiana’s mother in Princess and the Frog, who was voiced by Oprah Winfrey, is one Old Lady Name that hasn’t yet been revived, but certainly could, along with others like others like Amelia and Adeline. It was long associated with Southern writer Eudora Welty.

Flynn Rider is the dashing bandit who eventually marries Rapunzel in Tangled. At one point it is revealed that his real name Eugene—not the coolest of names.  But Flynn (think Errol) is a charming Irish surname name with a lot of the appeal of the popular Finn.

Gideon—Though Gideon may be a crafty villain in Pinocchio, his name has quite the opposite image.  In the Old Testament Gideon was both a judge and military leader of the Israelites, and his name is one of those rising on the Biblical popularity list.

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