Thankful Names for Thanksgiving: Graziella and Gwendolen
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Before we dig into our turkey and cranberry sauce, sprouts and yams and pumpkin pie, it’s always a nice tradition to stop and take stock of our blessings, sometimes sharing them around the table. And maybe this is a good time too, to consider some Thanksgiving baby names that embrace the very meanings of blessing, grateful, and thanks.
These twelve names may come from many different cultures, from Italian to Hebrew to Welsh to Zimbabwean, all embracing the universal warmth of gratitude we feel for the blessing of our babes..
Asher—The Hebrew name meaning ‘happy’ and ‘blessed’ was worn by a son of Jacob in the Old Testament and is very much on the rise at the moment, ranking in the Top 75 nationally and at Number 5 on Nameberry, loved for its handsome nickname Ash. Used by several celebs, Asher characters have also appeared on Gossip Girl and Gilmore Girls.
Baruch– A Hebrew name meaning ‘blessed’ (as does the related Barack), Baruch has been largely associated in the past with the eminent Dutch philosopher of Portuguese origin, Baruch Spinoza, and as the surname of eminent one-time presidential advisor Bernard Baruch. It is rarely heard outside the Jewish community.
Benedict— Another name meaning ‘blessed’ is the newly fashionable Benedict, given a big boost from Mr. Cumberbatch. It is saintly, papal and Shakespearean (Much Ado About Nothing) and now ranks as #450 on Nameberry.
Gwendolen, Gwendolyn – Many sources add the word ‘blessed’ to ‘white, fair,’ in the definition of this name. This old Welsh favorite, given literary cred by both George Eliot and Oscar Wilde, is currently #401 with the ‘y’ spelling, having peaked in the fifties at 112. Could be due for a revival?
Macarius—A rarely heard Latinate name, meaning ‘supremely blessed’, becomes an interesting addition to the category of ancient Roman names. There was an early Egyptian saint known as Macarius the Great and the name has many other religious connections. International variations include Makarios (Greek), Macario (Italian and Portuguese, Makar (Russian) and Kari/Karri (Finnish).
Shakir, Shakira, Shaquira– All these names stem from the Arabic word (shukran) meaning ‘grateful, to thank, thank you, thankful to God’. Columbian singer-songwriter Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, known mononymously as Shakira, has brought her name into the spotlight.
Tatenda—This is a Zimbabwean name meaning ‘with gratitude’, very fitting for Thanksgiving. The African name became internationally known via cricketer Tatenda Taibu (nn Tibbly), who retired at the age of 29 in 2012.
Zendaya—Zendaya means ‘to give thanks’ in Shona, native to the African people of Zimbabwe. Zendaya is the single name used by a onetime Disney Channel actress and singer. Another version is the appealingly exotic Jendayi.