Baby Name News: Some subtle seasonal choices

In baby name news this week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel looks beyond the obvious Christmasy names for some more subtle year’s-end suggestions.

Could the circumstances of your child’s birth influence the name you choose?

There’s been no shortage of seasonal and holiday-themed name articles over the past few weeks.  Surely, if you were whisked to the hospital on the back of a scooter and hadn’t yet settled on a middle name, your daughter could wind up christened Isabel Vespa. But how many parents deliberately choose seasonal appellations for a baby born in December?  Is all that tinsel and mistletoe enough to make names like Merry or Belle seem better than Margaret or Brooke?

Seven years ago, I was due with my first child on Christmas Day.  I can honestly say that, despite a struggle to settle on a middle name, we never considered Rudolph or Winter or Noel.  But if I had it to do over again?

I’ll admit that names like Holly and Ivy might very well make my short list.

Here are eight names that caught my eye from this week’s baby name news, all of them rich with subtle, seasonal style, plus one truly timeless choice from Hollywood royalty.

Shepherd Elea’s Advent Calendar at British Baby Names has proven thoroughly addicting.  This is my favorite so far: Shepherd, a working name with some history of use, one that has lofty spiritual meaning while still feeling rustic and down-to-earth.  Like the idea, but want something even less obvious?  How about Asher, a name Syrian Christians associate with the Biblical flock-watchers.

Alcyone – Nope, that’s not a wacky re-spelling of Allison.  It’s a name from Greek myth suggested by Isadora at Bewitching Baby Names.  The short version is this: Alcyone’s husband died, but the gods had mercy, transforming the couple into a pair of kingfishers – or halcyons.  The birds typically nest in the winter, during a period of calm weather beginning mid-December – peaceful, halcyon days.

Yule Nook of Names published a lengthy list of seasonal appellations.   I find this one intriguing – slightly less obvious than Noel or Natalie, but still a nod to the season.  Then again, Yul – as in Russian-born actor Yul Brenner – is actually derived from the Russian version of Julius, and seems more suited to the month of the actor’s birth – July.

Carnelian – Marginamia suggested the name of this red stone, most likely for a girl.  Carnelian is sometimes listed as a substitute for July’s birthstone, Ruby.  If you’re disappointed to find that Ruby is so popular, I can almost guarantee that you’ll never meet another Carnelian.  She’s outrageous at first glance, but if girls answer to Clementine and Cordelia, Jewel and Gemma, why not Carnelian?

Zuzu Marginamia also mentioned Zuzu Bailey, the little scene-stealer from seasonal cinematic staple It’s a Wonderful Life, as did Linda in Friday’s post.  Top Chef alum Tania Peterson welcomed a daughter called Zuzu Audrey earlier in 2011.  Could this be her year?

Suzu – Sebastiane took a global perspective on the question, sourcing names from a broad range of cultures.  I’m drawn to Suzu, a Japanese name that means bell – and feels appropriately close to little Miss Bailey’s appellation, too!

Courage – It isn’t specifically seasonal, but Anna spotted this one on the baby picked to star in a local Nativity Play – Hosea Courage.  While using the middle name Danger feels like a punch line, Courage seems aspirational, and “neo-Puritan,” to borrow Anna’s description.

Ballerina – Been to the ballet yet this season?  Many families count a holiday trip to see The Nutcracker as a favorite tradition.  Jeremy Sisto gave this frilly, feminine middle name to his daughter – along with the boy first name Charlie.  News that he and wife Addie are now expecting a son prompted a revisit of his daughter’s daring name.

Helen Grace – On the other hand, Robert DeNiro’s choice was as classic as it gets.  He and wife Grace are also parents to son Elliot, and Robert has four children from previous relationships: Drena, Raphael, Julian, and AaronHelena and Elena might be more popular, but there’s something rock-solid – and very appealing – about Helen.

Spotted any interesting names this week?





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9 Responses to “Baby Name News: Some subtle seasonal choices”

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Lola Says:

December 26th, 2011 at 10:37 am

I quite like Shepherd. It’s been growing on me. 😀 Zuzu’s long been a favorite. I hate the movie but love the name. She’s short forhis beloved: Zuleika.

Name spotted this week: An announcement from neighbors, a brand new Sophia Cecylia! I love seeing my Babci’s name in that one. Apparently, it’s her Grandmother’s name too.

Merry Christmas to all from Disneyworld!

miloowen Says:

December 26th, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Only new name this week is our chorus teacher’s new son, Cameron Ross, a nod to their Scottish heritage.

Two of my nieces were born on the 23rd but neither was given a seasonal name — Alexandra Elaine and Eliza Catherine — perhaps because we grew up with too many Holly’s and Noel’s.

I think, however, were I to have a child (grandchild, maybe?) born at a seasonal time, I might be tempted by seasonal names (such as Pascal/e at Passover) but would be hard pressed to find a girl’s name for Chanukah. Maybe Liora?

Poppy528 Says:

December 26th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Miloowen – How bout just Judah for a Chanukah baby? I like Liora, and Luz for that matter. I’d use them all. Or Kislev, Channa, Norah (as in Menorah), Olive (as in oil), Mattityahu, Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, & Jonathan. I could go on and on.

I quite like Shepherd and Suzu (until my hubby said, “Oh, like the car?”).

abeezee Says:

December 26th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I was born on December 23rd and my name is Angela Christina. I always was proud as a kid to tell people that it was a reference to “Christmas Angel”, but I will warn you that having a birthday on the 23rd was never fun. If at all possible try NOT to have a late December baby (therefore be extra careful around March – haha), because your child’s b-day will always be swallowed up by the holidays. 🙂

Lola Says:

December 26th, 2011 at 10:15 pm

@abeezee: My OH’s birthday is Nw Year’s eve and His birthday was always forgotten about when he was a kid. When we were first dating, I threw him a huge b-day party and he told me that was his first birthday party, ever. His Mom agrees. So, yes, late December birthdays stink!

My kid Brother’s is 13, Dec and even he got shafted a fair bit as a kid. One year he got a birthday present with a “Do not open ’til Xmas” card on it! Talk about awful! I spoil my December guys a bit. My birthday’s in the middle of July so I think they need to be celebrated like anyone else. Be warned folks! 😀

Abby Says:

December 26th, 2011 at 11:08 pm

My son arrived on December 17 – it is absolutely not a great time to have a birthday! Easy to forget, but even if everyone remembers the gifts are just all blurred together with Christmas. So yes – abeezee, totally agree!

Nyx Says:

December 27th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

My birthday is also December 23… and it SUCKS 😛 . My sweet 16 birthday was at a pizza parlor and family used it as a time to pass out Christmas gifts to other family members who they wouldn’t be with on Christmas. Even the cake seemed almost an afterthought… being decorated with Christmas poinsettia and red and green.

And I think that was probably my last birthday party to date (I’m in my mid-30’s now). Even my 21st was rather blah, with my mom and sister taking me to a Mexican restaurant and insisting that I order a margarita. Yep, that was the extent of it… My 30th came and went without anybody even noticing until a month later…

My best advice, try to avoid the Christmas-time baby, or be willing to go the EXTRA mile to try and give the person some normal birthday spoiling 🙂

However, my name does have a subtle link to Christmas, and I don’t think that either parent even realized it (not even to this day). My middle name is Tiffany, which was traditionally a name given to children born on the Epiphany (a festival commemorating the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus). And while I wasn’t born on January 6th (maybe I should change my birthday?), it does have it’s own link to Christmas 😀

MollyKat78 Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 2:21 am

I find it hillarious…my daughter had a mouse named it is getting popular..afte zhu zhu pets..our other mouse is Tosca…

arreisenlaluz9 Says:

January 2nd, 2012 at 4:32 am

My little sister was born the 28th and her name is Holly. They told 2 and a half year old me that if she were a girl she would be named Selena (a boy would have been called Nicholas… but i would have been too and i was born in April) I had all my baby dolls named Selena until they changed their minds at the last minute. I still don’t know why my parents suddenly decided to go with the christmas theme… but now i’m glad they did because Sierra and Selena would have been way to matchy.

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