Naming your newborn child can be a unique experience based on your nationality, ancestry, and/or the country where you currently live. Whether you are the kind of parent with a long list of names before you conceive or are waiting to meet your little one before making a decision, your tradition and culture can be a great source of inspiration.
Here we have put together several of the most interesting baby-naming traditions from across the world that may help you on your baby-naming journey. Let’s get started!
Fascinating Baby Naming Traditions
British naming conventions arrange names as follows: first name, middle name(s), and surname. First name, also known as personal or given name, is given to a child at birth as their personal identifier. For example, Alfred, Emmet, and Carter are some popular male names in England.
Middle names are optional and come between a child’s first name and the surname. They are hardly used in daily life, however, most British children are given at least one.
The surname or last name is the family name of a child. Traditionally, British names are patrilineal. Children usually adopt their father’s family name. However, it is not an enforced tradition, and some parents prefer giving their children a hyphenated surname that includes the family name of both the father and mother.
Greek families traditionally name their children on the seventh or tenth day after their birth. It’s very common for Greek parents to honor their families while naming their newborn, and the baby’s first name is usually influenced by the name of one of their grandparents.
Sometimes, some creative parents combine the names of two grandparents on the maternal and paternal sides to create a unique one. For example, Cora and Bella might become Corabella. Another common variation on this trend is using the name of one of the grandparents as the baby’s middle name.
The Greek Orthodox Church can also inspire baby names. However, this trend is becoming less popular nowadays. Unlike many traditions that have a scarcity of given names, Greek families enjoy a great variety of baby names to choose from.
Horoscopes have a great influence on Indian baby naming traditions. Here, many parents choose their child’s name corresponding to their birth star constellation (nakshatra). In the southern regions, a child takes the name of the entire constellation. In northern parts, they receive a name starting with the first letter of the constellation.
Names inspired by Hindu gods and goddesses or Indian cities are also common in India. Moreover, the total number of letters in a child’s name is determined by their sex. Girl names have an odd number, while boy names have an even number.
Traditionally, Indian children receive two names: a legal name that is written in all legal forms including their birth certificate, and a nickname that they usually become known as among friends and family.
Chinese parents usually give their babies names that are made up of two characters from the Chinese alphabet. Each of the characters has an individual meaning. The Chinese alphabet is composed of numerous characters, thereby two people having an identical name is quite rare in China.
The given names often reflect aspects of the baby’s personality, gender, or even the natural world around them. In China, given names come after surnames. Here, people show respect to each other by addressing them by their whole name, and only family members and close friends use the nicknames.
Many Chinese people adopt westernized names at a later, important part of life, perhaps during foreign studies, travels, or when they get married, while the original name is used as a middle name.
Parents in Spain don’t need to squabble about whether the baby will get the father’s or mother’s surname—they receive both. Among the two surnames, the first one usually is the paternal surname (father’s first surname), and the second one is the maternal surname (mother’s first surname).
Additionally, Spanish kids often take two first names. The first one is usually determined by their gender and is religious in nature, often inspired by martyrs and saints, and the second one is inspired by a close friend or family member.
However, in recent years, more modern and international names, particularly the ones influenced by famous athletes or celebrities, are becoming more popular among expecting parents.
You may know Japan through its famous landmarks or quirky culture but it has a really unique baby-naming tradition too. Babies are named by arranging a Chechnya ceremony with their families. Traditionally, a special poster or meimeisho is made with the child’s name on it and is flaunted over the baby’s crib or in a family shrine. Sometimes, it is given as a gift to the person who selected the name of the baby.
In Bali, birth order determines the names of many newborn children. The most popular names for firstborns are Wayan, Nengah, Gede, or Putu. The secondborns are usually named Kadek, Ngurah, Nengah, or Made.
Babies born third are named Komang or Nyoman, and the fourth can be named Ketut. Because of the order, it becomes difficult to name the babies that are born later.
In Ghana, a baby naming ceremony is arranged 7-8 after the baby is born. Usually, close friends and relatives attend the ceremony, and this is where they meet the newborn for the very first time.
The father of the newborn or a close, older relative chooses the name. The name typically reflects the baby’s characteristics and birth. The first name emphasizes the day the baby was born and their gender, and the second name is usually after a beloved relative, in the hope that the kid will obtain the good traits of the person they are named after.
Every society has its own baby naming customs, whether they are influenced by local traditions, family heritage, or religious beliefs. But they have one thing in common: All of them recognize how essential it is to select the perfect name for a child. If you are still looking for the right one for your baby, you may get some fresh insight by exploring your family’s heritage and culture.