Just as the conversations were getting started, one of the husbands present put his arm around his wife and said, “We have good news. There will be a new addition to our household sometime soon!”
Of course we were all delighted for them, and later in the evening the conversation drifted to possible names for their child. Like most couples, at least here in the U.S., they’ve started drafting possible boy names and girl names for their bundle of joy.
To my husband, though, this is a little premature. In the culture where he grew up, babies aren’t usually named until they are born! It’s foolish to begin thinking of names for someone who hasn’t been born yet.
That’s because the names often reflect something special or unique to that baby. If the babies are born on a feast day, for example, one of their names will be literally “feast day.” Perhaps they are very loud and playful, in which case one of their names might be “laughing” or something similar.
Oh, and did I mention that babies get named by a dozen or so relatives, meaning they usually have 10 or more names? (Try fitting all of those into one passport!)
Even after the baby is born, it is still called “Baby” for several days until he or she is named by the parents’ family members. I understand that in the old days, this could take several weeks or months as relatives had to walk their way to the child’s household. So the baby had better hope they were in a good mood when they arrived at the naming ceremony!
This got me thinking about the power of names – how they can reflect socioeconomic status, family heritage, personal character traits, blessings from the parents, etc.
If you have children, how did you choose to name them? Did you find a way to honor both your cultures (mother and father), and were there any challenges along the way?