Category: Waltzing More Than Matilda
There’s a lot to be said for having a name that is familiar in many countries. It makes travel and working overseas just that little bit easier, and if you have a particular cultural background, it’s nice to know that relatives in your country of origin will easily be able to spell and pronounce your child’s name. Even if your child never leaves their native shores, we live in a global village, and they will most likely meet, study, and work with people from other countries.
To me, a name with high international recognition needed to be popular in as many regions as possible, so that as a mimimum, it needed to be Top 100 in the English-speaking countries of Australia, New Zealand, England/Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Canada, and the USA. It also needed to be popular in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia.
While Australia does have a class system, it’s a flattened-out one, with fewer social divisions, and a large middle ground. Class is more fluid and less structured here than some other places. Of course, that doesn’t mean we are free of all status markers and snobbery – including name snobbery.
So if we don’t have an upper class, do we have upper class baby names? I don’t think so, because any particular name is used by a wider variety of people than you might suppose. Although in our imaginations, poor people have children named Jaidyn and Tayylah, and rich people send Agatha and Lucius off to St Barnaby’s or the Kindergarten of Higher Consciousness, in real life it is a lot less stereotypical.
The Australian birth data is generally released by each state and territory between New Year and Easter, culminating in the national Top 100. Below are the names which rose the most in 2013, and some possible reasons why they might be doing so well at present. People from other countries may be interested to compare this to their own fastest-rising names, when all the data is in. I have also written an article on my site on those Top 100 names that rose significantly in several states, which has slightly different information.
Name Days began in medieval Europe as a way of replacing the pagan custom of birthday celebrations with the Christian tradition of saints’ days. The Name Day was to honour your patron saint (the one you were named after), and complicated calendars were drawn up based on saintly feast days.
In modern Europe, Name Days have mostly lost their Christian overtones and become more of a folk tradition. Even the link to saints’ feast days seem to have been broken in many countries, with the date of the Name Day not always correlating with any special date in the saint’s hagiography.
In many countries, your Name Day is more of a big deal than your birthday, and it is certainly a lot more public. While only family and close friends might know when your birthday is, everyone who knows your name knows when it’s your Name Day – it’s written right there in the calendar!
I recently released an e-book called International Baby Names for Australian Parents, to help Australian parents find names that are uncommon, but not strange. My theory was that was a name that had never ranked here, yet was on the charts in other countries, would fit the bill of being seen as both “unusual” and “normal”.
Here are some names from the book that have never ranked in English-speaking countries, but are in the Top 100 elsewhere in the world.
Anouk (Top 100 in the Netherlands)
Hip and quirky while still having substance. As a short form of Anna, provides an alternative to that and related names.