Category: classic baby names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
There are few names that have given birth to as many variations as Ann, the simplest and softest of the classic girls’ names. But while others like Mary and Margaret and Elizabeth have spawned almost unrecognizable progeny—from Daisy to Bessie to Peggy to Polly—most of the Ann derivatives have stayed pretty close to their mother name.
Yet Ann herself is an offshoot, coming from Hannah, a Hebrew name meaning ‘grace,’ who in the Old Testament is the mother of the prophet Samuel. This version was taken up by the Puritans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and remained a commonly used name in the Jewish community for several generations.
Anna is the Latin form widely used in countries across the world, while Ann was originally the English spelling and Anne the French. St. Anne was the traditional, non-biblical name of the mother of the Virgin Mary, which explains its popularity among Christians—and is the name of several saints. In more modern times, the affection felt for the character Anne Shirley in the childhood classic, Anne of Green Gables, also contributed to the spread of this spelling.
There were dozens of stories in the baby name news last week, but they all shared a common theme: the Social Security Administration’s release of the 2012 baby name data
We talked about Titan and Briggs, Landry and Geraldine. About how Jacob remained number one, but only if you didn’t tally up the many spellings of Aiden, Jackson, and Jayden. Television’s influence was clear – Arya and Aria, Litzy, Major, and Jase. Movies, sports, and music shaped our choices, too, as did faith. Nevaeh’s little brother might just be called Messiah.
But what about the quiet classics, the names that rise and fall, but still appear in nearly every generation? Hemlines change. We graduated from the party line to the iPhone, the horse to the Prius. And yet these names remain, worn by men and women, boys and girls of every age.
I love an unexpected nickname, and it is a delight when parents choose classic baby names with spark. This week’s name news was filled with great examples.
The Bush family is big on passing down heirlooms, from father to son, but also across generations. Former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager wears her maternal grandmother’s name, and upheld that tradition with her new arrival.
But Jenna went one step further: she figured out a clever way to use both grandmothers’ names while adding an on-trend nickname that gives the new baby an identity all her own.
Today’s Question of the Week was inspired by a comment on our Facebook page, noting that names that end with the letter A were a “family tradition” for that berry.
How interesting! While family name traditions are more conventionally thought of as calling all the oldest child Joseph or Elizabeth or giving children names that start with the same letter, there really is no strict definition to what might constitute a naming tradition.
So we put the question to you: What are the naming traditions in your own family?