Category: baby naming
Question of the week: How do you feel about your own name?
This is a topic that has been brought up in the nameberry forums, with opinions ranging from love to how could my parents do this to me? What we’d like to know now is:
What is it that you like or dislike about your name? Do you feel that it fits you perfectly or not at all? Have you ever considered changing it?
Has it affected other people’s impression of you? Positively or negatively?
Has your feeling about your name changed over time, perhaps as it has become more or less stylish or trendy?
How has your attitude towards your own name affected your approach to naming your own children? Would you choose something similar in style or popularity or one that’s diametrically different?
We’ve talked a lot here about sibsets—those hopefully harmonious pairings of the names of the brothers and sisters in a family, and the elements to consider in order to achieve that harmony—sound, tone, style, syllables….matchy-matchy or not for twins…
Taking all that into consideration, the question of the week is:
What is the best sibset you’ve ever heard—and/or- -if you’re so inclined– what’s the worst? (Twins and other multiples included.)
Guest blogger Hilary Zalon, founder of thecradle.com, explains the modern tradition of the Jewish naming ceremony for girls.
I have two wonderful daughters. And while I was never averse to having a little boy, I’m relieved that I was able to skip the Jewish ritual to welcome a son. In fact, the relatively new Jewish ceremony to welcome a daughter is much more up my alley.
If you’re not Jewish, or aren’t familiar with these traditions, here’s a quick 101: The male ceremony is a ‘brit milah’ – also known as a bris - the ceremony for circumcising an eight-day-old boy. The female ceremony goes by a number of names, including ‘simchat bat’ (rejoicing of the daughter), all to celebrate…get this…naming your daughter!
No sharp implements. No rush to get a party together in eight days while recovering from the actual delivery of the baby. And we get to celebrate one of the most enjoyable parts of welcoming a baby – choosing a name. In this instance, we’re celebrating the Hebrew name, so we get to pick even more names!
Many refer to a baby naming as a “modern” or “contemporary” tradition, and while there are signs that baby naming rituals happened hundreds of years ago, it really became a more recognized option for parents in the ‘70’s (likely coinciding with the rise of feminism and the increase in bat-mitzvahs). Since it is so new (forty years is nothing when you’re dealing with a history that’s over 5,000 years old), it is still up to personal interpretation and the ceremony can really represent your family’s personality and style.
We’re not a very religious family, but we do have a strong pride in our heritage and our Jewish community. For both of our daughters, we waited until they were 9-10 months old, which is probably a lot longer than most people wait. Some parents have a naming ceremony just eight days after the birth (echoing the male circumcision ritual). Others say a blessing for their daughter when they are called to the Torah – sometimes as early as the first Sabbath after the birth.
At our event, the rabbi led a very simple and beautiful ceremony at our home, which included a welcome prayer, description of the ceremony, an explanation of the names we chose, a blessing for our daughter, and a blessing for everyone. As with most of our Jewish traditions, there is wine and food. Those two are always a hit. (Although finding good bagels in L.A. is still a struggle.)
As for the names we chose:
Our older daughter’s given name is Sasha Leah (honoring my grandmother, Sylvia, and my husband’s grandmother, Leah). The Hebrew name is traditionally the Hebrew name of the person she is named for. Since my grandmother didn’t have a Hebrew name that was meaningful to her, we were able to choose a name that was actually a second-runner up to her given name. And her middle name was a no-brainer since her given middle name is already a Hebrew name. She received her Hebrew name, Sivan Leah, right after my dad joked, “Anyone want a slice of Sivan Leah cake?”
Our younger daughter is Esmé Juliette (for my grandmother, Eva, and my husband’s grandfather, Jack). Ever since I read JD Salinger’s Nine Stories in school, I was stuck on the name Esmé – but I hadn’t read or seen any of the Twilight books or movies, so when I learned about the character named Esmé, my heart sank a bit – only out of a little sadness that this ‘secret’ gem of a name (actually popular in South Africa and a few European companies) might become more well known! Her Hebrew name, Chava Yael, was another half-given: Chava is the Hebrew name for Eva/Eve. But since her middle name was for a male, we felt we could choose any name we liked that started with a Y (the Hebrew alphabet doesn’t use J’s). We were able to avoid my father’s imminent joke that her middle name should be ‘Piece-a’ so his granddaughters could be ‘Chava Piece-a Sivan Leah’ cake.
Hilary Zalon founded TheCradle.com, an award-winning online resource for expectant and new parents. Since the sale of the site to giggle, Hilary has been exploring a number of different ventures, her favorite being enjoying more time with her daughters and husband.
In today’s baby name scenario, middle names have moved from insignificant supporting players to full-fledged costars, with a very small number of parents electing to avoid the issue and use no middle name at all.
So this week’s question is: what role does a middle name play for you?
- Would you or did you use one or two or more middles?
- Would that position be reserved for mom’s maiden name, another family name or a personal hero you wish to honor?
- How about the idea of honoring both grandmothers or grandfathers as Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin did with their kids Apple Blythe Allison and Moses Bruce Anthony?
- Would you put that slightly too outré name you don’t quite dare to use as a first into second place? Or, flipping that coin, would you give your creatively named child a classic middle for him to fall back on?
- How much do sound, syllables, initials factor into your decision?
- If the child has a unisex first name, would you give him or her a more gender-specirfic middle?
- How would this baby’s middle name relate to those of her present or future siblings’?
WHO DO YOU TALK TO WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT NAMES?
Today’s question is: where do you turn when discussing your name choices? These days, when picking the perfect name can seem to be a minefield of do’s and don’ts, many if not most parents-in-waiting turn to others for guidance and opinions. How about you?
— Is your partner your principal sounding board and if so is finding a name a primary topic of conversation?
— Do you talk about names with your friends (pregnant and not) – and how honest do you really want them to be?
— Do you find that talking with your family—especially those of the parental and grandparental generations—is trickier than talking to friends—and if so, why?
— Have you made virtual friends on message boards whose opinions you value? Have you become part of an online community that has raised issues of interest to you and that you might not have considered before? Have they helped you in arriving at a decision?
Tell us about your name community!