“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Juliet Capulet to Romeo Montague in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene II.
“What’s in a name” has a lot of meaning beyond the Shakespeare quote. How do we name our children and what is the meaning for the parents and children?
My daughter’s middle name is Rose. She is named after her grandmother and her grandmother was named after her grandmother who was named after her grandmother and the name Rose has been traced all the way to San Fele, Italy in 1815.
In fact, there are naming traditions from all over the world. Before the 20th century, our family’s Irish and Italian naming traditions followed a set pattern. The firstborn sons were often named after their paternal grandfather, the second born sons after the maternal grandfather and the third sons either after their father or after their father’s eldest brother. For firstborn daughters, they were often named for their paternal grandmother, second born daughters were named for the maternal grandmother and the third daughter for the mother or mother’s eldest sister.
Today, there appears to be a shift away from traditional naming patterns. Every year the Social Security Administration lists the top names for boys and girls. There are also online resources to assist parents in choosing a name.
In the original Little Honey stories told to my children, I identified each character as my children would know them such as MumMum, Papa, Aunt Tara, Uncle Drew etc. But when the books were in development, fictional names needed to be created.
I became Little Honey because my mother often referred to me as Honey and my sister, Tara, became Angel because she really was such a good child and the best sister ever. Cissy was a play on my father’s sister’s nickname. As a child, my father could not pronounce his sister’s name which was, Rosemary. Instead, he called her Sis for sister. The nickname stuck. She was always Sis to her immediate family and Aunt Sis to all the cousins. So, Cissy for my eldest sister in the stories seemed to fit perfectly.
And what about “Baby Tru not quite two?” When my brother Drew was little, my father sang a little singsongy tune “True blue, son of Lou, baby Drew.” But I decided against baby Blue because of the popularity of the television series, Blue’s Clues. Instead, ”Baby Tru not quite two” was born!
What are the naming traditions in your family? How did you pick out the names of your children?