Spotlight on: Casper

I’ve been wanting to chat about Casper for a while. I’ve been loving it in recent years, but haven’t even suggested it to my hubs, since we have a loved one who was tormented as a child by being called Casper because of his fair skin and light hair. The problem in that scenario of course is the meanness with which the other kids called him Casper — not the name Casper itself nor even the ghost, because really — he’s the cutest ghost ever. But still — Casper is tainted for us, unfortunately.

But what about for the rest of you? Casper the Friendly Ghost was well known when we were growing up, but is it still? And even if it is, does that bother you? This post at NameCandy (which is what inspired me to finally post this spotlight) officially argues that there’s no reason not to use it, but two different commenters noted that DreamWorks owns the rights to Casper, so a near-future movie is not out of the question. But then one of them also noted that were a Casper movie to come out, the name would likely shoot up the charts. Pop culture is such a weird, powerful, sometimes awesome, sometimes devastating, often hard-to-predict thing).

If you’re not afraid of a little ghost :), I can think of a million reasons why Casper’s an awesome name for a boy today.

For starters, he’s one of the Three Wise Men! Casper, Jasper, and Gaspar are all variants of the same name (behindthename has Jasper as the original, Persian for “treasurer”; it lists Gaspar as the Latin, Spanish, and Portuguese form of the name and Casper as the Dutch and Scandinavian form. Jesper, Caspar, Kasper, and Kacper are some other variants), and I’ve seen each of them used in reference to one of the Three Kings (the others are Melchior and Balthazar. I’m thinking Casper’s the most usable, actor Balthazar Getty notwithstanding). A good paragraph about the Church’s tradition from the Catholic Education Resource Center:

Since the seventh century in the Western Church, the Magi have been identified as Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. A work called the Excerpta et Collectanea attributed to St. Bede (d. 735) wrote, “The magi were the ones who gave gifts to the Lord. The first is said to have been Melchior, an old man with white hair and a long beard… who offered gold to the Lord as to a king. The second, Caspar by name, young and beardless and ruddy complexioned… honored Him as God by his gift of incense, an oblation worthy of divinity. The third, black-skinned and heavily bearded, named Balthasar … by his gift of myrrh testified to the Son of Man who was to die.” An excerpt from a Medieval saints calendar printed in Cologne read, “Having undergone many trials and fatigues for the Gospel, the three wise men met at Sewa (Sebaste in Armenia) in A.D. 54 to celebrate the feast of Christmas. Thereupon, after the celebration of Mass, they died: St. Melchior on Jan. 1, aged 116; St. Balthasar on Jan. 6, aged 112; and St. Caspar on Jan. 11, aged 109.” The Roman Martyrology also lists these dates as the Magi’s respective feast days.”

Other than the Wise Man (who is referred to as St, Casper, both above and on Wikipedia), there’s also the pretty fab St. Caspar del Bufalo, who founded the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood.

Secularly, there’s a good list of Casper/Caspars here (both in the body of the entry and at the bottom of the page). And what about nicknames? Caz and Cass seem the most likely; maybe also Cap/Cappy (cute!).

Have any of you considered using Casper? Do you know any Caspers? Do they like their name? Do they go by a nickname?

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15 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Casper

  1. I was with you until “Cass” and then remembered my grandparents had a really-big-deal-prize horse that went by Cass that I learned to ride on throughout my childhood (full name wasn’t Casper, though, so maybe still usable for us?) It’s funny how life history can crop up out of nowhere and totally change a name for you! Anyway, an interesting spotlight. Who doesn’t love the Magi?

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  2. Ooh, I love Casper/Caspar! My favorite nickname is Caz. “Cass” would worry me a little, but Cassandra isn’t common enough that it would inevitably ensue that other kids would make the connection. I also love that it’s the Scandinavian version. I’m always looking for good Scandinavian saints’ names since both my husband and I are pretty Scandi in ancestry!

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  3. Casper is cute, but it’s Jasper that I’m in LOVE with. I already have two “J” boys though, and have determined that any more than that makes me the person who uses all the J names. I’m trying to convince my sister to use Jasper as she has a H3l3n and a F3lix already and I think it would be soooo perfect with the cute urban/English thing she has going on, but her husband thinks it’s too weird. Makes me sad, though, as Jasper is one of the few names that actually makes my heart race just a little.

    Anyway, like Casper, LOVE Jasper. The end.

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    • I love Jasper too! Unfortunately it’s got the Twilight taint for us. I really can’t see my hubs ever going for it. I got excited when I saw the Jesper variant yesterday, and I guess it’s still doable with the pronunciation JES-per, but I then read it’s actually said YES-per. That kind of stuff doesn’t usually bother me, I’ll say it the way I want to say it as long as I can make a solid argument about legit variant pronunciations (see Joachim), but for some reason YES-per made me dismiss the name. (Traditional nick for Jesper is Jeppe … I said JEP in my head, but it’s probably YEP … but I find the J-sound Jesper nicked Jep pretty swoony)

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  4. I want to love Casper because it seems like a name that would be really my style, however, it’s just too friendly ghost for me to ever consider using!

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  5. We found out after our parish priest passed away that his middle name was Casper. He always abbreviated it… we only saw John C. We were pretty tickled, because it happens to be our last name. 😉 For our second boy, we jokingly nicknamed him Jasper before he was born. There were actually a few people who thought we were serious. 😉

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  6. Was going back through old Spotlights since I hadn’t read all of them. This one struck me because you mention St. Caspar del Bufalo who has become familiar to me in recent years. I have found that he is more often referred to as St. Gaspar. And did you know that he was born on Epiphany and his full given/baptismal name is Gaspar Melchior Balthazar del Bufalo? How is that for going full out wisemen!?

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