Baby names inspired by the winter holidays of the world
Baby names inspired by the winter holidays of the world
A baby’s name can just as easily be a representation of any number of things: the time of year they were born, a particular family member after whom they were named, or a personal passion of the parents reflected in a moniker. Whatever the impetus behind their name may be, a baby’s name is something that carries meaning and history based on what inspired it forever.
When it comes to exploring the meaning of certain popular names, there are often trends that arise grouping certain kinds of names together. Winter holidays comprise one such trend: Many names for boys and girls have especially close ties to the holiday season. Some names, like Nicholas (from St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children), may be rooted in religious history. Other names, like Rudolph, may be rooted in a less secular (and slightly jauntier) tradition or symbol. More names still, like Noel or Noelle (the French word for “Christmas”), might be far more literal in their relation to the holidays.
But what all of these holiday-inspired names have in common is their demonstration of a kind of naming tradition; a theme around which certain naming trends evolve. These names can be equally ideal for babies born during the holiday season or those born to parents with a particular love for the holiday season.
Stacker used various sources to compile a list of 30 baby names inspired by winter holidays, alternating between 15 boy names and 15 girl names loosely ranked by how popular they are within all boys' or girls' names, respectively. Baby name popularity ranks are available through Social Security Administration 2018 data.
Read on to learn about some of the most notable names that embody the essence of the holiday season.
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- 2018 popularity rank: #5,737 for boys (15 babies named)
Eron is a variation of the Hebrew name Aaron, which means “exalted” or “enlightened.” In Judaism, Aaron is the name of the high priest who lit the first menorah during the Israelites’ travels. It was later Aaron’s descendants who lit the menorah on what has since become celebrated as Hanukkah.
- 2018 popularity rank: #8,546 for girls (12 babies named)
Sira is a name that means “the joining of friends.” This makes the moniker one that is closely tied to the first principle celebrated during the week-long celebration of Kwanzaa: unity. On day one of Kwanzaa, those celebrating like to focus on coming together as a family or community and celebrating the unity of being together.
- 2018 popularity rank: #3,281 for boys (34 babies named)
Rudolph is a name of German origin meaning “famous wolf.” However, the name has earned most of its recognition less so for its association with a famous wolf and more so for its association with a famous reindeer. As the Christmas song—“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”—goes, Rudolph is a reindeer with a red, glowing nose bright enough to light the way for Santa and the other reindeer on Christmas night when the sky gets too foggy.
- 2018 popularity rank: #6,487 for girls (18 babies named)
The name Epiphany is rooted in Greek and is used to describe the sensation of having a sudden realization. In Christianity, the Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas, on January 6, and is meant to celebrate the three wise men—also known as the Magi, or the three kings—who visited Jesus upon his birth and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
- 2018 popularity rank: #2,826 for boys (42 babies named)
Klaus is a name of German origin, and is simply short for Nicholas, who was the patron saint of children and the inspiration for the Christmas figure we now know as Santa Claus. As far as how the name Santa Claus came to be, the moniker actually stems from the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas—Sint Nikolaas—which they shortened to Sinter Klass. Upon settling in New York in the late 18th century, Dutch traditions around the festival celebrating Saint Nicholas began to gain popularity amongst the English, who soon adopted many of the Dutch holiday traditions—including their name for Saint Nicholas.
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- 2018 popularity rank: #5,423 for girls (23 babies named)
Candelaria is the Spanish name for Candlemas, a post-Christmas feast on February 2 that commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem 40 days after his birth. This presentation of Jesus was based on the ancient Jewish practice of presenting one’s first-born child to God. The name of the holiday—which also goes by the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord or the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary—came to be known as Candlemas thanks to the feast’s relation to lights. Specifically, when Jesus was first presented at the temple, he was met by an old, holy man by the name of Simeon. This man had been told by God that he would meet the Savior. Upon meeting Mary, Joseph, and Jesus at the baby’s presentation at temple, Simeon declared that Jesus would be a source of light for people. Thus, it became a tradition to light and bless candles in the church every year on February 2.
- 2018 popularity rank: #1,999 for boys (72 babies named)
Kris can be a shortened version of the name Kristoffer, which is a Scandinavian—specifically Swedish, Danish, or Norwegian—variation of the name Christopher, meaning “follower of Christ.” Of course, while the name may be connected to Christmas in a religious sense due to its affiliation with Jesus and Christianity, the name has a slightly less secular association with the holiday too: Kris Kringle is another name for the one and only Santa Claus.
- 2018 popularity rank: #4,114 for girls (34 babies named)
The name Lumi comes from Finnish origins and means “snow.” Naturally, with snow being such a central component of the winter, it has come to be a symbol of many a winter holiday, as well—especially Christmas, where carols like “Frosty the Snowman” really double down on the snow symbolism.
- 2018 popularity rank: #1,999 for boys (72 babies named)
Pax comes from the Latin word meaning “peace.” Of course, peace is a central theme in many of the winter holidays; they are a time of celebration, family, and, for many, faith. It’s also a recurring theme in a lot of traditional songs of the season, such as the Christmas carol “O Holy Night,” for example.
- 2018 popularity rank: #2,854 for girls (58 babies named)
Eira––which is pronounced like the male Ira––is a name of Welsh origin that translates to “snow.” Like in the case of Lumi, snow is a pretty common symbol of December and the holiday season, so it’s natural that the name would feel tied to winter holidays. Not to mention the prominence of snow as a theme in many a Christmas carol, including “Let It Snow” and “White Christmas.”
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- 2018 popularity rank: #717 for boys (332 babies named)
The name Shepherd comes from the English word for the occupation of tending to sheep. In biblical tradition, shepherds played an important role in the birth story of Jesus. As the story goes, shepherds near Bethlehem were the first people to be given the news of Jesus’ birth delivered to them by an angel who appeared to them in the field. The shepherds then spread the news of the birth of Christ far and wide.
- 2018 popularity rank: #1,786 for girls (113 babies named)
Carol, which originates from English, may be a feminine variation of the boy’s name Charles, which means “free man.” However, the name could just as easily be a reference to the word “carol,” which simply means a “song” or “hymn.” Of course, the later definition is one that has close ties to the holiday season as Christmas carols and the activity of caroling are a big part of the weeks leading up to the holiday.
- 2018 popularity rank: #687 for boys (352 babies named)
Clay—which may be short for Clayton—is a name of English origin. It comes from the old English word “claēg,” which translates literally to the element of “clay.” As far as holiday-inspired monikers go, this is one of the less literal or obvious ones and is linked more loosely to Hanukkah in that original dreidels—the spinning tops that are played with during the holiday—are popularly believed to have been made out of clay, thanks largely to “The Dreidel Song.” Despite this popular belief, though, most dreidels are typically made of plastic or wood.
- 2018 popularity rank: #515 for girls (603 babies named)
Imani is a name that comes from Arabic, in which it means “faith.” The name represents the seventh and final principle celebrated during the week-long celebration of Kwanzaa, and a focus on the strengthening of spirituality that comes with that celebration.
- 2018 popularity rank: #405 for boys (784 babies named)
Of all holiday names, Noel—which has a feminine variation in the name Noelle and is a variation of the Old French name Nouel—is one of the more obvious ones with an affiliation to the winter holidays. The moniker comes from French, in which it literally translates to “Christmas.” The word has its roots in Latin, though, coming from the phrase “dies natalis,” which just translates to “natal day” or “birthday.”
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- 2018 popularity rank: #507 for girls (608 babies named)
Holly—which comes from the Old English word “holen”—is the English name for the holly tree. The plant has a symbolic meaning in Christianity, as the plant’s prickly leaves and berries represent the crown of thorns worn and the blood shed by Jesus when he was crucified. Despite the intense symbolism, though, the plant’s association with Christmas has since taken on a lighter side, as is evident by such jingles as “Deck the Halls.”
- 2018 popularity rank: #202 for boys (1,993 babies named)
The name Judah comes from the Hebrew name Yehudah, which is believed to come from the word meaning "praise." In Judaism, Judah is a key figure in the origin story of Hanukkah, whereby Judah Maccabee and his brothers overcame leaders of the Syrian-Greek Empire and reclaimed their Temple, at which the eight-night miracle of the oil occurred.
- 2018 popularity rank: #472 for girls (654 babies named)
Nia—a name that means “lustrous” and “purpose”—has origins in Gaelic and Swahili. Nia is the principle observed on the fifth day of Kwanzaa, a day that focuses on setting goals for the betterment of oneself, society, and the community as a whole.
- 2018 popularity rank: #159 for boys (2,404 babies named)
Emmanuel, which comes from the Hebrew name Immanuel, translates to “God is with us.” In the Gospel of Matthew, this is the name used to represent Jesus. Jesus never actually bore this name, but rather it was simply used in the New Testament to refer to the role of Jesus as a figure who was bringing the presence of God in the form of mankind.
- 2018 popularity rank: #379 for girls (819 babies named)
Miracle comes from Latin, and means "wonder” or “marvel.” The theme of miracles is one that has long been associated with the holiday season, with much of that stemming from the religious stories that are behind a lot of the holiday traditions we know and love today. In Christianity, the virgin birth of Jesus is the miracle at the root of the celebration of Christmas. In Judaism, the minuscule amount of oil that managed to fuel a Temple’s menorah for eight days is the miracle at the root of Hanukkah.
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- 2018 popularity rank: #154 for boys (2,484 babies named)
Jasper is a variation on the Latin name Gaspar, which is believed to be derived from the Hebrew word “gizbar,” which means "treasurer." The name is an Anglicized version of the name of one of the three Magi—Caspar (sometimes Gaspar, as well)—who, according to the gospel, were the first to worship Christ. The group of wise men are known for presenting baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, which is referenced in the Christmas carol “We Three Kings.”
- 2018 popularity rank: #355 for girls (890 babies named)
The name Joy comes from the same English word and means—you guessed it—joy. The term itself is a derivative of the French word “joie” and, before that, the Latin word “gaudia.” Of course, joy is a central theme during the holiday season, both in general sentiment as well as common Christmastime songs, including “Joy to the World.”
- 2018 popularity rank: #148 for boys (2,631 babies named)
Jesus—which means “savior” or “to save”—is derived from the Hebrew name Yeshua. The name is, of course, that of Jesus Christ, who is the source of the Christian religion, in which he is also believed to be the son of God. As the biblical figure whose birthday is celebrated on Christmas, it’s no question that this moniker is deeply rooted in not just the Christian faith, but the holiday season, too.
- 2018 popularity rank: #281 for girls (1,173 babies named)
Juniper—a name of Latin origin which means “young”—could just as easily be a girl’s name as it is the name for small evergreen trees and shrubs. It’s not uncommon for some people to have a juniper Christmas tree for the holiday.
- 2018 popularity rank: #74 for boys (4,801 babies named)
The name Nicholas comes from St. Nicholas, the Greek-born bishop of Myra who was known for his avid defense of the church during the Great Persecution in the year 303 A.D. St. Nicholas was also known for his miraculous acts and for being the patron saint of children and bringer of gifts during his life. The life and history of St. Nicholas has since evolved in popular thought. Today, the bishop is most commonly associated with one of the most central characters of Christmas: Santa Claus.
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- 2018 popularity rank: #126 for girls (2,327 babies named)
The name Mary is a biblical one, and while it’s a name shared by many characters in the New Testament, it is of course most commonly associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. It’s no wonder that the name is a typical one associated with Christmas and the birth of Jesus.
- 2018 popularity rank: #72 for boys (5,032 babies named)
Angel was originally most popular as a boy’s name in Spanish-speaking countries. But it has been Anglicized over the years, thanks to such popular culture phenomena as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The name means “messenger of God.”
- 2018 popularity rank: #86 for girls (3,256 babies named)
Ivy is a name of English origin that is derived from a plant of the same name. Through history, ivy has been used in several traditions—such as in the wreaths of newlyweds in Ancient Greece—that can be traced back to the plant as a symbol of faithfulness. Interestingly, ivy has also taken on a close association to Christmas. One explanation has been the similarity between the plant’s need for something to cling to as it grows and the Christians need for support from God for their own growth in life.
- 2018 popularity rank: #23 for boys (9,555 babies named)
In Christianity, Saint Joseph is the husband of the Virgin Mary and the foster father of Jesus Christ. The Feast of St. Joseph, which falls on March 19 and during the holy month of Lent, celebrates the life of Joseph, who came to be known as the patron saint of the universal church in Roman Catholicism. The name Joseph is thus a celebration of the saint and his role in the lives of both Mary, mother of Jesus, and Jesus himself.
- 2018 popularity rank: #39 for girls (5,095 babies named)
The name Natalie is a French version of the Russian name Natalia, which translates to “born on Christmas.” As such, it’s a perfect (and very literal) name for any girl born on Christmas, though it makes for a lovely symbol of the holiday any time of the year.
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