With eight women in my circle of family and friends having babies this year, the topic of naming a little one has come up more than once. The naming pendulum, which once seemed to swing away from choosing an old family name for the newest member of the clan, might just be swinging back.
It seems that bequeathing a newborn with the name of a beloved grand- or even great-grand parent, favorite uncle or sibling is now in favor again. Finding and utilizing ancestral last names is more common as well, with some using them as middle names, but others finding them useful as unique first names. Some tweak the name a bit to make it more current, but the result is still the same.
A link is made between past and present.
Carrying on a family name is a special way to honor those from the past. Indeed, a connection is made between those family members involved, though they may have never met or formed a bond in this life. And what parent isn’t thrilled when a “junior” or “third” carries forward the family name in full?
When a child is old enough to ask about his or her name and learns that it was chosen to pay homage a special person from that past, it means so much more than, “We liked the sound of that.” If information is passed on about the original bearer of the name, it often inspires the same positive traits in the namesake. (Assuming one does not name his child after lazy Uncle Charlie the lush.)
Another trend is the choosing of a name that represents the family “homeland” or country of origin, which is a special link of its own to a place most likely far away. Ancestry is then a part of the everyday, when the name is said it reminds family members of their heritage.
What’s in a name? Sometimes, there’s a lot of history there.