Notable January Namesakes: Alaska, Dolly & Danica

January 4, 2016 TulipByAnyName

By Meagan Burke at TulipByAnyName

Let’s ring in the New Year with some notable January baby names. As the first month of the year, January is a time of new beginnings, and offers a plethora of name inspiration. Explore these January namesakes that range from a dancer, to a gemstone, to a Nobel Peace Prize winner.


January is the initial month in the Gregorian calendar, which gets its name from the Roman God Janus. Fittingly, Janus was the God of new beginnings and transitions. Mad Man actress January Jones, born January 5, 1978, helped bring attention to this lesser used month name. January has several delightful variations in other languages, a few of which include Janeiro in Portuguese, Enero in Spanish, and Janvier in French.


Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. In the United States we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday in January. A revolutionary Civil Rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Martin was originally born Michael, but was renamed in honor of Martin Luther. A Latin name meaning warlike, Martin is currently a Top 10 name in Chile and Spain.


Alaska was admitted as the 49th U.S. State on January 3, 1959. Alaska is a Native American name meaning great land. Alaska is derived from the Aleut name Alyeska, meaning “that which the sea breaks against.” Only forty-six girls were given the name Alaska last year in the United States. John Green used the name Alaska for his title character, Alaska Young, in his first novel Looking for Alaska, and supermodel Anne V. recently used it for her daughter.


January-born actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson is best known for his comical character Mr.Bean. Rowan is an anglicized form of the Irish surname Ó Ruadháin, meaning red haired. Rowan is also a nature name for the rowan tree. A unisex name that is on the rise, last year Rowan was Number 239 for boys and 412 for girls, the highest it has ever ranked for either sex. Brooke Shields used the name for her daughter in 2003.


Immortal composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756. Wolfgang is a German name meaning traveling wolf. Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli used this name for their now grown son who commonly goes by the nicknames Wolf and Wolfie. Wolfgang has never been in the US Top 1,000, though it ranks at Number 508 in popularity among name lovers here on Nameberry. Wolf and Amadeus would make equally handsome alternatives to honor this musical genius.


Garnet is a vibrant precious gem, the birthstone of January. Garnet is a unisex name that means pomegranate.  Like the fruit of the pomegranate, Garnet is often seen in reddish orange tones, although it can be virtually any color. Princess Garnet is one of the main characters in the popular video game Final Fantasy IX.


The musical Hello, Dolly! opened on Broadway on January 16, 1964. Following the success of the play the lead character, Dolly Levi, was portrayed by Barbra Streisand in the film adaptation. Dolly is a diminutive of the English name Dorothy, meaning gift of God. One of the most notable bearers of this name is country singer Dolly Parton who also celebrates her birthday in the month of January, and Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell used it for one of their twin girls..


Ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov (shown) , nicknamed Misha, was born on January 27, 1948 in the Soviet Union. Mikhail is a Russian variation of Michael, meaning who is like God. Mikhail shares his name with two Russian tsars, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and the character Mikhail Bakunin from the TV show Lost. 137 little boys were named Mikhail last year in the United States.


Actress and mathematician Danica McKellar celebrated her forty-first birthday on January 3rd. Many of us know her best for her role as Winnie Cooper in the coming-of-age TV show The Wonder Years. Danica is a Slavic name meaning morning star that ranks in the middle of the Top 1,000 at spot Number 557. Danica is a great name to use if you are looking to honor a Daniel, Danielle, or even a Dana.

About the author


Meagan, also known as TulipByAnyName, is an artist, a vlogger, a blogger, and of course a baby name enthusiast! She loves exploring everything from literary names to celebrity baby names. You can hear her talk about names on her YouTube channel or visit her blog

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