By Linda Rosenkrantz
The winter solstice, aka the first day of winter, is scheduled to arrive this Wednesday, although for many of us—even here in Southern California—it has already landed. And when we think of wintery names, the color white comes to mind, just as Spring is green, Summer is yellow, and Autumn a riot of red-orange hues.
Almost every culture has a name or names related to the color white and its suggestion of purity, goodness and light. Here are 14 of the best for your winter babe.
Ailbe/Ailbhe—An old Irish unisex name meaning white, pronounced AL-veh, which was borne by a saint who was raised by wolves, and by a female Ailbhe with a racy mythological story. In Ireland, its nickname is Alby.
Albion—A fairly obscure Arthurian Al name, also the oldest known appellation of the island of Great Britain, related to the Latin Albus, probably referring to the White Cliffs of Dover. The evocative Albion actually appeared on the US popularity list for seven separate years at the end of the 19th century.
Arjun—one of the most universally attractive Hindi names, Arjun means “bright shining white.” The name of the hero of a famous Hindu epic, it’s very popular in India, and in this country has reached Number 500.
Blanche—The French Blanche’s meaning of white dates back to when it was applied to pale blondes. It was a top 100 name for decades, big in the Silent Screen era, then became attached to faded Southern belles like Blanche DuBois and Blanche Devereaux. Now that image itself is starting to fade, and Blanche finds herself back at Number 586 on Nameberry.
Bronwen—which means ‘white breast’ in Welsh, is a popular name in the land of the leek and would make a lovely choice here. In Welsh mythology, Bronwen was the daughter of Llyr, the god of the sea—so another name to add to the list of water-related names.
Fenella—one of a whole cluster of Scottish and Irish names, including Fionnulala, Finula, Finola and Fiona, all with white meanings. Fenella, which means ‘white shoulder’, is one of the most distinctive and wearable, especially with its popular ella ending. A Sir Walter Scott novel originally popularized it.
Guinevere—another name with a constellation of similar meaning names, such as Gwendolen, Genevieve, Gwyn and Gwyneth. We pick the Welsh Guinevere—‘white shadow, white shoulder’, with its romantic Camelot history. It is also the first name of the storied Miss Pettigrew.
January—Winter names have begun to join springtime’s April, May and June on the baby name calendar. Thanks to the prominence of January Jones (who was named for a Jacqueline Susann novel character) on Mad Men, January has begun to find her way onto birth certificates.
Snow—A word name with a clean, pure, white image, Snow is part of a new subset of wintery names—Frost, North, Winter. Snow in particular would make a pure, fresh middle name choice with a storybook Snow White feel. Singer Lisa Lopes used it as her daughter’s first.
Winter—The ultimate winter white name, this is part of the new northerly direction of names. It started with celebs—Nicole Richie and Joel Madden used it as daughter Harlow’s middle, then Grethen Mol and Sean Parker moved it into first. It’s now at #549 and predicted to move even forther north.