Category: Spanish names
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration which spans from September 15th to October 15th of all Hispanic/Latino peoples and the contributions they’ve made to the United States, I’ve put together a short list of some of the most influential Hispanic men and women who broke barriers and became inspirations to all.
While this list is far from exhaustive, it’s a solid start that may give you some inspirational and classic baby name ideas for your next child.
They are all Catalan, an ethnic group whose origins in Mediterranean Spain and France have roots in the merging of the indigenous Celts of the Iberian peninsula with the Romans. Catalan is a Romance language that existed before Spanish, and derived from Vulgate Latin and Occidental. The Catalan culture began around the ninth century CE, and was in its heyday between the eleventh and the fifteenth centuries. At one point, the Catalans, who were sailors, merchants, and explorers, had expanded their territory from the Mediterranean coast of Spain and France through the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Sicily, Naples, and Greece.
Currently, there are six to eight million speakers of Catalan. Catalunya is the largest semi-autonomous region in Spain, and includes the provinces of Barcelona, Lleida, Tarragona, and Girona, as well as parts of Valencia, the Balearic Islands, and the region of France that borders the Pyrenées and the Mediterranean. During the Franco years, Catalan culture, music, language, and freedoms were brutally suppressed. Since the constitutional monarchy of Juan Carlos, Catalunya has restored its language and traditional culture.
Now that the Social Security Administration has released its annual baby names listings beyond the top 1,000 (including all names that had at least five occurrences in any given year), names researchers can better track the influence of popular culture on our names.
For example, a girl’s name appearing in 2009 for the first time on the SSA lists is “Greidys” – with an astonishing count of 186 baby girls having been given that name in 2009. Its variants “Greydis” and “Greidy” also appear for the first time on the 2009 list, again in the astonishing numbers of 100 and 25 occurrences respectively.
Another girl’s name appearing in 2009 for the first time on the SSA lists is “Chastelyn” with 150 occurrences. Its variants “Shastelyn” and “Chastelin” also appear for the first time in 2009, with 34 and 33 occurrences respectively.
While we may expect new names to appear on the SSA lists each year, these new names generally don’t have more than a dozen occurrences, if even that. Why are the names “Greidys” and “Chastelyn” (with their variants) suddenly so prominent in their first appearance on the SSA list?
Our Latin friends can answer that question easily enough. These names shot to popularity with those who watch the Spanish television network Univision’s reality TV show called Nuestra Belleza Latina * (which translates into “Our Latin Beauty”). The winning contestant in the show’s third season (2009) was a Latin beauty from Cuba, named Greidys Gil. Another popular contestant was Chastelyn Rodriguez from Puerto Rico. And thus were two new names embraced by American moms (or dads!) in search of baby names.
It’s not really so surprising that the names of dances would be strikingly rhythmic and melodic, but when I started to look into it, I was somewhat taken aback by the sheer number and variety—and by how many of them could conceivably be seen as baby names.
The following list cuts across time and space, from Italian Renaissance peasant dances and stately minuets to complex international folk dances to Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers to 1960s line dancing to 1980s Brazilian zouk.
ABHIA—a ceremonial dance done by southern Sudan tribal women around a mango tree
ABRAXAS—a serpentine ritual dance of the Greek Gnostics to the deity of that name
ALEMANDER—folk dance performed in Germany and Switzerland
APARINA—a Tahitian dance for 60 men and women sitting in four rows
BARYNYA—a lively Russian folk dance; also the name of several Russian folk dancing ensembles
BOSTON—the original name of the American Waltz, introduced in that city in 1834
BRANSIE—an old French follow-the-leader dance
CALATA—an Italian town dance done in triple time
CARINOSA—Philippine dance of love
CEROC—a simplified version of modern jive dance
CHACONNE—a slow, solemn dance of Spanish or Moorish origin; also a popular social dance in 17-18th century France
CHULA—a traditional dance from Portugal and southern Brazil; also means beautiful in Spanish
In southern Spain recently, researching Spanish baby names, I came up against the fact that Spain is a widely varied country with different languages and cultures — and different names depending on ethnicity and region.
Rather than simply Spanish baby names, there are Catalonian baby names and Basque names, names more popular in Galicia and those favored in Navarre. And of course names popular in Spain may be different from those used most widely in other Spanish-speaking countries, such as Mexico or Brazil.
Spanish baby names that are stylish today and may be ready for import to the U.S. include: