The most popular questions I get these days:
- "When are you due?"
- "Boy or girl?"
- "Have you thought of name for her?"
The first two are easy. (I hope). The last one is the curve ball. My answer always starts with a dragged out "welllllll..." and a smile. And if my mom is with me, she does this predictable eye roll and head-shaking maneuver as if to say "My daughter is torturing me; don't you agree!" Jimmy and I have decided not to share the name of our little one until she gets here. SURPRISE! This decision was partly out of necessity- we haven't been able to decide or agree on a name- and partly out of the sheer fun of making our parents and family suffer in anticipation! We haven't even shared our brainstorming ideas- Aren't we cruel!?!?!
Now that Jimmy and I have pretty much decided on her name, I have decided to post the following article. I found this months ago on the Internet and could identify COMPLETELY with this woman's explanation of choosing baby names in the south. Here's a perfect example: the first place I looked for baby names was my family tree, followed by a trip to the family cemetery. (no joke). It's kind of long, but enjoy the read...
Any true southerner has trouble understanding why Yankees get such a laugh out of some Southern baby names. People not in the loop think double or even triple names are slapped together for no other reason than locally pleasing meter or syntax. It may be unreasonable of me, but the idea of anybody poking fun at a tradition they don't understand just makes me mad. Southerners choose their babies' names for excellent reasons. Never mind that the names that they select are most likely different than those on the list of most popular baby names for any given year!
Southern moms don't just flip through the latest books and pick names because they are cute or trendy. These ladies go through more pains in naming their kids than they did in giving birth to them! That statement may be taking it a bit too far, but folks in the south do literally agonize over what to name their baby. This is because choosing southern baby names involves much more than reading the few words in some generic baby book that lists the copycat definitions of various baby names. Definitions are all fine and good, they have worked for the people who publish Webster's Dictionary for years! But when you start talking about naming southern boys and girls you're looking at meanings of names within families, not what they might mean to a person who speaks Latin or Hebrew!
Don't be mistaken to think that only the names of a southern child's parents or even grandparents are passed forward. There may have been a brave great great uncle who fought bravely in the war and deemed worthy of remembrance...
As we all know southerners are famous for double names. Some are forced to resort to triple names so that their little Mary or Michael stands apart from the rest. Why this is a tradition credited to the south I'm not really sure. I would like to think that southerners have so many famous kin that they want to claim. This fact makes it necessary to give each child several names so that each illustrious departed family member is sufficiently honored.
I can't count the many theories where credit can be given for the reasoning of traditional southern baby naming patterns and the traditions behind them. There seems to be no definitive answer on why family names and history appear to be more important to new parents below the Mason Dixon Line than in other parts of the nation. There is however, no argument that the results are some of the most elegant and romantic names you will find printed on a birth certificate anywhere. The next time you feel tempted to giggle at a child named Billy Bob consider that the first person that bore the same name may not have perished defending a southern belle's honor but that he may have died defending our freedom and our country.
Article by: Jan Bay