Do you celebrate your name day?
While the idea is little known in the US, many cultures prefer name days to birthdays. The idea is simple: instead of celebrating your day of birth, you and every other Margaret or Joseph or Andrew are feted on the same day.
The custom has its origins in saints’ feast days, but plenty of non-saintly names exist on national calendars. Wanda is a legendary figure in Poland, so no surprise she has a name day there, along with other Slavic staples like Bogdan, Dobromir, and Grazyna.
Word is that Facebook is now encouraging users to add their name day celebrations to their profiles. Americans love a holiday, from Halloween to Cinco de Mayo. Could name days catch on here?
I’m in favor. Double the reasons for cupcakes!
But how would the galaxy of modern American names fit into a calendar? Could there possibly be name days for so many of the kids I know – Clio, Atticus, Sterling, Lorelai, Ariel, Aubrey, Wesley, Delaney, Kai?
The Name Day Calendar turned up more authentic yeses than I would ever have guessed.
The American Name Day calendar goes one step farther and assigns name days to brand new names, like Camden and Mackenzie. November 11th is the name day for Jalen, Jonte, Chandler, and Dallas. Tomorrow, it is Kylie, Kyla, and Colin.
Many of this week’s baby names in the news would require choosing a new day to celebrate!
Tommy Francis – Let’s start with one of the more conservative choices on this week’s list. Michelle Monaghan and Peter White have welcomed a second child, Tommy Francis. He joins big sister Willow Katherine. Nickname names are all the rage in the UK, where Alfie, Charlie, and Harry are Top Ten picks. Tommy seems like an up-and-comer in the US. And that middle name – is it the Pope Francis effect again? The American Name Day calendar puts all Thomas names on April 13th. It seems to be tied to the birthday of founding father Thomas Jefferson, rather than any of the saints to wear the name.
Rigby Finn – Names for Real spotted a Rigby Finn. After talking about Marceline in last week’s round-up, this cartoon-inspired pick caught my eye. On Cartoon Network’s Regular Show, Rigby is a slacker raccoon, best friend to the slightly more sensible blue jay Mordecai. It’s an unlikely source, but Rigby feels like a successor to other surname picks like Riley and Brady. We’ve seen the name used a few times in recent years. Rigby doesn’t have a Name Day – yet.
Ripken – The newest season of The Biggest Loser includes a contestant named Hap Holmstead, a Utah native and dad to three. His youngest is newborn son Ripken, presumably after baseball legend Cal Ripken. It’s a name that has heard more use in recent years. There’s no Name Day for Ripken, but how ‘bout Cal’s birthday – August 24th?
Julius – I missed mentioning Morena Baccarin’s new arrival a few weeks ago. The Homeland actress and her husband Austin Chick welcomed son Julius at the end of October. It’s a handsome name with a long history of use. The American Name Day calendar puts all of the Jul- names on April 8th, the same day some European countries use.
Valor – Emile Hirsch chose a completely new name for his son. And yet Valor has the same vibe as Julius – a strong name with powerful associations. Valor shares the same Latin roots as our word valiant, making him a modern virtue pick. Sound-wise, he fits with Connor, Carter, and Archer. As for a Name Day? Valiant is tied to February 14th.
Oslo – Did you notice Oslo on last week’s October birth announcement round-up? I’m smitten! Oslo feels like an update for Oswald, and a more wearable Norwegian heritage pick than Ulrik or Alf. Not surprisingly, there’s no established Name Day – though Norwegian Constitution Day is May 17th.
Elm Elizabeth – She’s appeared in a few Swistle posts in recent years, a little sister for Atticus. Her parents met while working at a summer camp, so Elm’s name is a nod to the woods. Now the family is expecting baby #3 and needs help choosing a name. Elm could seem like a crazy, what-were-they-thinking choice, but the story behind it is rich with meaning. It’s one of my favorite names ever to appear on Swistle. There’s no Name Day for Elm, but the equally rare Elma is attached to June 2nd.
Camber – The Meanest Mom hasn’t updated her blog in a while, but I still love reading the archives. Camber is her firstborn, the only girl out of four children: Camber, Kellen, Courtland, and Cameron. Kelli mentioned Camber in her list of ‘ber’ names, and it stood out, along with Beryl, Ember, Berenice, and Oberon, as well as Caliber – but is he too gun show? No surprise that Camber is without a Name Day.
Isabelline – She’s a variation on the oh-so-popular Isabella, but isabelline is also a color. Along with Thistle, Crimson, and Dove, Isabelline appears on a list of color names at the Art of Naming. We usually use it to talk about horses and birds. I do love the idea of Isabelline in the middle spot, a substitute for Elizabeth. There’s no Name Day just for Isabelline, but she could share February 22nd with the other Isabel- names.
Do you celebrate name days? Does your name have a name day? If it doesn’t, could you choose one?