How I Named My Baby: Salem Tate
Allison, owner of Eventide Pennant Co., and Jacob, a pastor, live in Charleston, South Carolina with their three children: Hewitt, Annie Drew, and Salem.
Their youngest, Salem Tate, was born on April 19, 2021. Below, we chat with Allison about how and she and Jacob named their little girl.
Tell me Salem’s name story!
Salem is our third child. We had a boy name picked out, but we were really struggling to find a girl name that we liked. We love names with meaning, especially when our kids are named after someone we love. There were tons of people who she could have been named after, but we didn’t go with any of their names.
I don’t know how it came to me — maybe it was through scripture. Salem is the last part of Jerusalem, and it dawned on me. I knew one person named Salem, and I was reminded that it could be a name for a girl.
It turns out that Salem is a form of the Hebrew word "shalom," which means “peace.” My husband is a pastor, and he was going through seminary at the time. He was studying all this and found out that Salem also means “wholeness” or “complete.”
Salem was born ten years to the hour of when my husband’s mother passed away. We weren’t wavering on the name, but that really solidified the completeness and wholeness. It was the perfect day for her to have been born with that name.
How did you decide on Tate?
Tate is my middle name and my grandmother’s maiden name. Growing up, I always dreamed of naming a child Tate, whether it was a first name or middle name. My grandmother passed away a few years ago, but she was one of the most special people in my life. We were super close and talked on the phone and wrote letters to each other all the time. Salem was going to have the middle name Tate whether she was a boy or a girl.
How would you describe your style beyond baby names?
As a young family, I feel like my husband and I are still meshing our styles together. Jacob’s style is more modern minimalist, and my style is a little more traditional. We’re meeting in the middle with a traditional minimalist style. Similar to our kids’ names, we like stuff that is unique but not obscure.
Did you and Jacob talk to anyone else about names?
Not for input. Our older two are also named after family members, and we don’t share the name during pregnancy, except we always tell the person who they’re named after. Annie Drew is named after my mom and my brother, so only they knew her name before she was born.
We ended up telling my dad because Tate was his mom’s maiden name. It was so special for him to know.
What names did you like when you were younger?
I vividly remember writing down names in my journal in late elementary and early middle school. I loved putting a Y in a name where it was unexpected. Like an -syn or something. Which people do pretty often now! Those are really beautiful names, but my taste has changed.
How do you feel about your own name and how do you think that influenced your choice?
Growing up, there was always another Allison — at least two or three in my grade going through school. It didn’t bother me or anything, but that might be one reason why Jacob and I like names that are unique but not obscure.
If Hewitt or Annie Drew or Salem meet someone else with their name, they might have a fun connection to them rather than, “I’m Allison L. and you’re Allison M.”
My middle name being Tate and having such a nice relationship with my grandmother influenced me to want to name my children after someone special. I’m actually named after an Alice, so I love when somebody takes a name that they don’t necessarily want to use and twists it into a different version of that name. That’s something we did with my son Hewitt — he’s named after a Hugh.
What are the trendy names in your social circle?
In Charleston, there are a lot of traditional names for boys, like William, Charlie, Henry, and Jack. I’ve realized a lot of boys here are named after their dads. They share a first name or full name. We have three friends where that’s the case.
Did you have any big fears related to baby names?
Our last name is Lee, which makes everything an adverb. I love the name Sloane, but if we named a girl Sloane Lee, it would turn into “so lonely.” We have to say the name fast, slow, and a million times to make sure it’s not going to turn into a word or phrase that wouldn’t be so great for a middle schooler.
What was the most surprising part of the baby name process this time around?
It took us so long to come up with it! We weren’t disappointed that she was a girl, but we were like, “Oh man, we have a boy name all picked out!” But it was really special to then work on her name and land on something we really love as well.
Tell me about your business name, Eventide Pennant Co.
The word “eventide” literally means “evening time.” I started this business when I was a full-time elementary P.E. teacher. I worked during the day, got home around 4:30, and then spent time with my kids till they went to sleep around 7 or 7:30, and then I would start working on pennants. We decided on Eventide because that was when the work got done — in the evening time.
How is naming a business different from naming a baby?
A business name has to be unique, something no one else has used. There were names that we thought about that ended up being taken, even in totally different fields.
Doing a lot of research is very important for business names. You have to make sure the domain isn’t taken and think about how you would shorten it. You even have to think about how it fits in a logo.
A kid often grows into their name, but the business name needs to fit right away.
Have you noticed any trends in the names you’re putting on pennants?
Olivia, Charlotte, Sloane, Stella, and Lucy are common girl names among my customers.
For boys, Jack, Henry, Oliver, Liam, Leo, Theo, and Theodore. Names that might not necessarily be last names but have that feel to them, like Brooks and Wells.
What was your favorite baby gift that you received for Salem?
My sister-in-law got our older two kids baby blankets that they sleep with now — they’re the kind that are waffle-y with the satin edge. They have yellow and green, but she couldn’t find another color for Salem, so she just made it! It’s beautiful — it has the same satin edge as the other two. She wanted it to be unique for Salem, which was really sweet.
As a parent, what is something you can’t live without?
Grace! From my kids, from my husband, from the Lord. It’s trying times, here!
Tangibly, we love our sound machines.
What’s something that Charleston parents like to do with their kids?
We moved here last summer, and I was determined to make going to the beach a doable activity. I’m not necessarily a beach person, but there’s something about just walking out there and seeing the ocean.
I asked friends who live here, “How do I go to the beach with three of my kids, by myself, where I actually want to go back the next time?” It’s doable, but expectations have to be very low. Someone told me, “Your kids will get in the water every time, even if it’s freezing cold.” They were right. If you’re not prepared for it, then you’re stuck with freezing kids and no one’s having fun.
What do you hope Salem’s name will imbue in her?
I hope that she is able to find peace in all situations, like the meaning of her name. But I don’t want her to feel pressure that her name means “peace.” She doesn’t have to be the most peaceful person, but I hope that she is able to find peace because God is sovereign.
With completeness and wholeness, I hope she sees the need of the Lord to make her complete and whole, not that she is just that from the beginning.
Thank you so much, Allison!
Photos via Allison Lee and Maddy Mallory Photography