By Linda Rosenkrantz
Greek baby names are the perfect focus on March 25th, which is Greek Independence Day–a major Hellenic holiday. Today we commemorate it with some wonderful but neglected Greek names for girls drawn from both the rich treasure trove of ancient mythological appellations and names found in modern Greece which have not made inroads this country.
Acacia—a just-beginning-to-be-appreciated Greek nature name, that of a flowering shrub with biblical ties, appropriate for an Eastertime babe. It’s currently Number 303 on Nameberry.
Amarantha—another rare and attractive botanical option with the popular a-beginning and end, more distinctive than cousin Samantha. The amaranth flower signifies immortality, making it a good Easter season consideration.
Ariadne—this name of the immortal wife of Dionysus and Cretan goddess of fertility is now Number 801 nationally and 225 on Nameberry. Ariadne appears in several Agatha Christie mystery novels and Ariadne auf Naxos is a Richard Strauss opera. It is Ellen Page’s character name in Inception.
Eugenia—one of the vintage baby names still awaiting its US revival; Eugenia was a Top 200 name in the 1880s but fell off the list completely in 1983, though it’s still well used in Greece. The British Princess Eugenie, bears the French form.
Ianthe—a purple flower name with an ethereal, poetic quality, a favorite of the early pastoral poets. In a similar vein, Evanthe, which means “fair flower,” makes a nice addition to the list of popular Ev-starting names.
Io— a name that packs an enormous amount of strength and substance in its short two-vowel, two-letter length. Io was a mythological maiden beloved by Zeus and more recently played a major role in Clash of the Titans.
Kalantha/Calantha–a pretty, underused name with the appealing meaning of “lovely flower,” sometimes spotted in early novels. Melantha is another Hellenic floral option—this one means “dark flower” and could make a possible namesake to honor a Melanie or Melissa.
Pandora–So what if she made one (major) mythological mistake? We think it’s time for her to be forgiven and welcomed into the baby name world. She did make a single brief appearance on the pop list in 1952. Pandora Lovegood is Luna‘s mother in Harry Potter, and some modern parents might associate it with the streaming music app.
Phaedra—An intriguingly dramatic choice thanks to her appearance in myth and literature from Euripides on into the present. The meaning of the name is “bright, glowing,” though her mythic fate was anything but. She’s never been in the Top 1000, but powerful Phaedra is now Number 569 on Nameberry, and could be in line to join the recently hot, equally tragic Ophelia. Phaedra Parks is a Real Housewives reality star.
Sapphire—Unlike Ruby and Pearl, this name of a blue gemstone has not yet been polished up in the US as it has in England and Wales, where it’s Number 328. Sapphire came to light recently as the pseudonym of the author behind the movie Precious. Could make an appropriate name for a girl born in September, whose birthstone it is.
Theodosia—This alternative to Theodora, both meaning “God’s gift,” made a few brief appearances in the US popularity ranks of the 1880s and 90s. It was the name given by Aaron Burr to his daughter and the birth name of iconic silent screen vamp Theda Bara.
Xanthe—As in all Greek names, the beginning X is pronounced as Z in this gilded name derived from the Greek word for yellow. Xanthe has recently entered the realm of modern possibility, especially for the Berries, who rank it at a high Number 205.