Name Days and New Names: Valor, Rigby, and Ripken

The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

Do you celebrate your name day?

While the idea is little known in the US, many cultures prefer name days to birthdays.  The idea is simple: instead of celebrating your day of birth, you and every other Margaret or Joseph or Andrew are feted on the same day.

The custom has its origins in saints’ feast days, but plenty of non-saintly names exist on national calendars.  Wanda is a legendary figure in Poland, so no surprise she has a name day there, along with other Slavic staples like Bogdan, Dobromir, and Grazyna.

Some parents look to these calendars for baby naming inspiration.  Born on March 17th?  Patrick is a nice name.

Word is that Facebook is now encouraging users to add their name day celebrations to their profiles.  Americans love a holiday, from Halloween to Cinco de Mayo.  Could name days catch on here?

I’m in favor.  Double the reasons for cupcakes!

More importantly, it ties us to others who share our name.  Celebrating our names encourages us to talk about why our parents chose Ava over Olivia, or Cordelia instead of Sloane.

But how would the galaxy of modern American names fit into a calendar?  Could there possibly be name days for so many of the kids I know – Clio, Atticus, Sterling, Lorelai, Ariel, Aubrey, Wesley, Delaney, Kai?

The Name Day Calendar turned up more authentic yeses than I would ever have guessed.

The American Name Day calendar goes one step farther and assigns name days to brand new names, like Camden and MackenzieNovember 11th is the name day for Jalen, Jonte, Chandler, and Dallas.  Tomorrow, it is Kylie, Kyla, and Colin.

Many of this week’s baby names in the news would require choosing a new day to celebrate!

Tommy Francis – Let’s start with one of the more conservative choices on this week’s list.  Michelle Monaghan and Peter White have welcomed a second child, Tommy Francis.  He joins big sister Willow Katherine.  Nickname names are all the rage in the UK, where Alfie, Charlie, and Harry are Top Ten picks.  Tommy seems like an up-and-comer in the US.  And that middle name – is it the Pope Francis effect again?  The American Name Day calendar puts all Thomas names on April 13th.  It seems to be tied to the birthday of founding father Thomas Jefferson, rather than any of the saints to wear the name.

Rigby FinnNames for Real spotted a Rigby Finn.  After talking about Marceline in last week’s round-up, this cartoon-inspired pick caught my eye.  On Cartoon Network’s Regular Show, Rigby is a slacker raccoon, best friend to the slightly more sensible blue jay Mordecai.  It’s an unlikely source, but Rigby feels like a successor to other surname picks like Riley and Brady.  We’ve seen the name used a few times in recent years.  Rigby doesn’t have a Name Day – yet.

Ripken – The newest season of The Biggest Loser includes a contestant named Hap Holmstead, a Utah native and dad to three.  His youngest is newborn son Ripken, presumably after baseball legend Cal Ripken.  It’s a name that has heard more use in recent years.  There’s no Name Day for Ripken, but how ‘bout Cal’s birthday – August 24th?

Julius – I missed mentioning Morena Baccarin’s new arrival a few weeks ago.  The Homeland actress and her husband Austin Chick welcomed son Julius at the end of October.  It’s a handsome name with a long history of use.  The American Name Day calendar puts all of the Jul- names on April 8th, the same day some European countries use.

ValorEmile Hirsch chose a completely new name for his son.  And yet Valor has the same vibe as Julius – a strong name with powerful associations.  Valor shares the same Latin roots as our word valiant, making him a modern virtue pick.  Sound-wise, he fits with Connor, Carter, and Archer.  As for a Name DayValiant is tied to February 14th.

Oslo – Did you notice Oslo on last week’s October birth announcement round-up?  I’m smitten!  Oslo feels like an update for Oswald, and a more wearable Norwegian heritage pick than Ulrik or Alf.  Not surprisingly, there’s no established Name Day – though Norwegian Constitution Day is May 17th.

Elm Elizabeth – She’s appeared in a few Swistle posts in recent years, a little sister for Atticus.  Her parents met while working at a summer camp, so Elm’s name is a nod to the woods.  Now the family is expecting baby #3 and needs help choosing a name.  Elm could seem like a crazy, what-were-they-thinking choice, but the story behind it is rich with meaning.  It’s one of my favorite names ever to appear on Swistle.  There’s no Name Day for Elm, but the equally rare Elma is attached to June 2nd.

CamberThe Meanest Mom hasn’t updated her blog in a while, but I still love reading the archives.  Camber is her firstborn, the only girl out of four children: Camber, Kellen, Courtland, and CameronKelli mentioned Camber in her list of ‘ber’ names, and it stood out, along with Beryl, Ember, Berenice, and Oberon, as well as Caliber – but is he too gun show?  No surprise that Camber is without a Name Day.

Isabelline – She’s a variation on the oh-so-popular Isabella, but isabelline is also a color.  Along with Thistle, Crimson, and Dove, Isabelline appears on a list of color names at the Art of Naming.  We usually use it to talk about horses and birds.  I do love the idea of Isabelline in the middle spot, a substitute for Elizabeth.  There’s no Name Day just for Isabelline, but she could share February 22nd with the other Isabel– names.

Do you celebrate name days?  Does your name have a name day?  If it doesn’t, could you choose one?

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24 Responses to “Name Days and New Names: Valor, Rigby, and Ripken”

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theb4ndit Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 12:24 am

This is a really interesting post! I had never heard of name days before this. Now I have an excellent reason to celebrate April 11 (my name day along with 2 of my favorite names) without having to justify myself by saying, “Because I can!”

littlewren Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 12:44 am

Mine is June 15, apparently. Interesting.
Neither Birdie nor Wren is listed, though. Hm.
And my birthday is the name-day for Dan- names.

I quite like:
Isabelline – I might consider it more if Isabella wasn’t so darned popular, so I currently prefer Olivine and Crimson;
Rigby – Might like if not for the Regular Show association, I can’t stand that show;
Elm – quirky and interesting.

littlewren Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 12:49 am

I also just discovered that one of my best friends’ name days is his birthday. His sisters don’t have the same overlap, though. Wonder if it’s a coincidence..?

Abby Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 6:27 am

@littlewren – Maybe a coincidence. Our daughter’s ND is our anniversary, something I never knew until I wrote this post! On the other hand, my husband was born on March 17th, so his parents briefly considered naming him Patrick. (They went with Arthur instead.) But I can imagine parents stumped for a name looking at a saint’s calendar, especially Catholic parents.

And Olivine is gorgeous!

@theb4ndit – It is fun, isn’t it?

JenniferMendoza Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 7:38 am

thats great

waiting12 Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 10:32 am

Ha! this is awesome, my son noah’s name day is his actual birthday?! serioulsy what are the odds??

SaraKeiju Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 11:12 am

Mine is quite variable depending on location (Sara).

I know in Finland they often have two or three names sharing the same day, albeit they are almost always merely another version of the name. There are some exceptions, however, where the names are unrelated.

But then that seems like here, where names are *so* variable, it would get very out-of-hand. There aren’t enough days for each name! Haha maybe it could be divided up by year as well, i.e. your name day only happens once every four years. But I don’t think that would work very well.

I can attest to the fact that in other countries, name days are at least as special as birthdays. When I was in Slovenia, we were having lunch with some friends, and they were telling us how it was a special day for Arne, their son, because it was his name day. The day played out how you would expect it would on a child’s birthday. I thought it was a cool idea 🙂

iheartnames Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Love this post! I’ve always been fascinated with name days!

JH Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 12:22 pm

St. Leo’s feast day was yesterday and we missed it for our Leo! Bummer. His name day is April 11. Why wouldn’t they be the same? They are in other countries, I guess.

karacavazos Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Thanks for the mention. Abby!! Isabelline is very pretty!

Kara @ The Art of Naming

Saracita00 Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Yikes, I must be out of touch. I thought Rigby was a cool Beatles nod…though considering the comeback they made in the early 2000’s, it still could be.

I happened to come across the concept of name days over the weekend — must have been something in the air! I come from a huge extended family. If we celebrated name days AND birthdays…we would never be done partying. Almost literally.

oboeplayer1 Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

According to the Name Day Calendar, I do not have a name day 🙁

Lo Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I grew up a Baltimore Oriole and Cal Ripken Jr fan so I thought it was pretty fun when Hap named his boy Ripken. I’ll also offer up September 6th as Ripken day. September 6, 1995 is when Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak.

Lo Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 3:31 pm

We definitely celebrate name day’s in our family. A small present or special treat on the kids’ saint’s feast day.

EmmeT Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I have considered celebrating name day’s in our family. We have twin girls and I thought it might be a nice way to have an individual celebration for each child as they grow older.

lawsonhaley Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 6:09 pm

My birthday is 25th October, but, according to the Name Day Calendar, my Name Day is 20th September. My sister is 30th January, her Name Day is 29th September. This is such an interesting and wonderful concept!

Abby Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 7:50 pm

@Lo – An excellent suggestion for Ripken!

@EmmeT – That is a really clever thought. Now that you say that, it could also work for kids who have a birthday on Christmas.

southern.maple Says:

November 11th, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Ah, yes. Just what America needs. More commercialized holidays.

Alyssalorraine Says:

November 12th, 2013 at 12:12 am

My name day is September 6th, but my real birthday is February 17th.

JessicaT11 Says:

November 12th, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I just looked up our family’s name days and they are all remarkably close to our actual birthdays. Cool.

tori101 Says:

November 12th, 2013 at 3:19 pm


There is a large Polish community in my country and I know for fact name day is almost bigger than most Polish people’s actual birthday’s! I love the concept of name day but I think it would be difficult to keep track of everyone’s birthdays and name days.

My favourites from the combinations are…
Elm Elizabeth

: )

loislane1222 Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 9:33 pm

I learned of this while living for three months in the Czech Republic — it is extremely popular there.

sargie3 Says:

April 25th, 2014 at 10:40 pm

My birthday is my name day in Bulgaria. Or at least the closest Bulgarian name to Erin’s name day is my birthday…

» Name Days and New Names: Valor, Rigby, and Ripken Baby Name Suggestion Says:

September 7th, 2014 at 1:43 am

[…] Elm, Valor and Isabelline are some of the unique names in this week’s Nameberry 9–along with some of Abby Sandel’s thoughts on Name Days. Nameberry – Baby Name Blog » Baby name news […]

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