Happy feast of the Epiphany!

My fifth baby was born on this date, and today he turns 9 — I’ve always loved that he was born on the feast of the Epiphany!

Our pastor read this at Mass on Sunday, which I’d never heard before:

Later legends have been busy with the wise men. In the early days eastern tradition said that there were twelve of them. But now the tradition that there were three is almost universal. The New Testament does not say that there were three, but the idea that there were three no doubt arose from the threefold gift which they brought.

Later legend made them kings. And still later legend gave them names, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. Still later legend assigned to each a personal description, and distinguished the gift which each of them gave to Jesus. Melchior was an old man, grey haired, and with a long beard, and it was he who brought the gift of gold. Caspar was young and beardless, and ruddy in countenance, and it was he who brought the gift of frankincense. Balthasar was swarthy, with the beard newly grown upon him, and it was he who brought the gift of myrrh.” (source)

The passage goes on to say that gold was a gift for a king; frankincense was a gift for a priest, and myrrh was a gift for one who would die. So much significance!

I would love to see the traditional names of the Wise Men used more. I discovered sort of recently that St. John Bosco’s full name was Giovanni Melchiorre (John Melchior), and there’s actor Balthazar Getty, and Caspar the Friendly Ghost, but otherwise I don’t know anyone with these names. Do any of you know anyone in real life with any of their names? I’d love to hear all the details! Have a very Happy Little Christmas!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Welsh-ish, old, and/or Epiphany name needed for little green bean!

Emily and her husband are expecting their third baby! This little green bean joins older brothers:

Llewyn Peter
Linus Casimir

How cool are those names?! I love them both!

Emily writes,

I am currently expecting (team green!) and due in January. I realized recently that it’s very likely I will be scheduled for my repeat C-section on or around the feast of the Epiphany, and I thought, hmmm, epiphany-inspired names perhaps? This sounds like a job for Sancta Nomina!

This next kid may make or break our L streak, haha. I’m not sure I want to get stuck with L names but if we find a really good one, I’m not opposed either.

Boy names I like and/or considered in the past:
Cyprian
Theodore
Lawrence
Colm

Girl names I like and/or considered in the past:
Leonie
Magdalena
Sophia
Anastasia …
very flowery and princessy, haha

My husband doesn’t tend to feel strongly about names — or so he says — until we try to decide, haha. He also really likes Maude for a girl, which… I do not… however, I’m willing to compromise and accept it as a middle name. 🙂

I would love to hear your thoughts!

This was so fun to work on! Llewyn, Linus, and Casimir are such fun, unexpected names! Usually when I’m coming up with name ideas for parents, I first try to figure out what the names they’ve already chosen for their older kids have in common: are they all of a certain ethnicity? Are they fancy or simple? Long or short? Unusual or familiar? Llewyn and Linus have very different feels to me on their own — Llewyn screams “Welsh!” with that double L, and has a little bit of a fantasy feel to me, in the style of Narnia or Lord of the Rings, probably because of the Welsh feel and its similarity in sound and appearance to Lewis (C.S. Lewis). I think it can also have an “old” feel — I think Welsh names were very popular earlier in the twentieth century, and still have that “grandparent” feel, like Gladys, Glynis, and Lloyd — this fits well with some of the names on Emily’s list, like Lawrence and Leonie, and her hubby’s Maude. Linus on the other hand comes across as very Catholicky Catholic to me — some families I know that have a Linus have other children with names like Ambrose, Blaise, and Simon. But, different as they are, I think Llewyn and Linus are excellent brother names! The shared L is part of it, as is the fact that they’re both unusual. I think Linus has that “grandparent” feel too.

Emily said they aren’t wedded to the L theme, so when I was looking for boy names that I thought would fit their taste, I leaned heavily on “unusual” and “Welsh” (or Celtic, more broadly, as with Colm), and less heavily but kept in mind the “grandparent” feel as well. I did similarly for girl names, but added in a frilly element. I was actually pretty surprised by Emily’s girl list — they’re gorgeous names, all of them! But much less unusual than Llewyn and Linus. And of course, I did some research for Epiphany names!

Before getting into my ideas, I thought I’d touch briefly on some of the things/names Emily mentioned in her email:

I do think she and her hubby are wise to consider their feelings on another L name. Generally, they’re thinking the way I would advise: there’s no need to continue the L theme, but if they find an L name they like, that’s great too. I will just say, though, that while two children with the same first letter aren’t yet an established theme, three children with the same first letter would make it hard to move away from L for a fourth baby, if they were to have one. In my mind, this is more an issue of fairness than anything — would Llewyn, Linus, and Leonie’s little sister Sophia feel left out? Would Llewyn, Linus, and Leonie think Sophia lucked out? But then again, the more children a couple has, the less of a problem it would be. If Emily and her hubby end up having eight children, for example, they can easily add in more L names without issue: a sib set of Llewyn, Linus, Cyprian, Anastasia, Leonie, Theodore, Lawrence, and Magdalena isn’t that big a deal L-wise at all. Just something to keep in mind!

All that said, they have some great L names on their list! Leonie and Lawrence are both amazing with Llewyn and Linus!

Regarding the names they like/have considered in the past, Cyprian and Colm were more the kind I expected to see, while Theodore and Lawrence were more familiar than I would have thought they would like. But then again, Theodore and Lawrence have a gentlemanly feel that I think both Llewyn and Linus have. So I like their boy list!

I love their girl list too! The only one I might suggest staying away from is Sophia, only because it’s SO popular and Llewyn and Linus are not at all popular. However, writer/speaker/blogger Simcha Fisher has ten children, some of whom have names like Irene, Benedicta, and Cornelia, and some of whom have names like Sophia, Clara, and Lucy. So currently popular names can certainly coexist happily with currently rare names.

I was so surprised by Maude! Especially from a man who doesn’t otherwise feel strongly about names! However, it fits in very well with their boys from a “grandparent” perspective, as well as with Theodore, Lawrence, and Leonie. Funny how that happens! An interesting thing about Maude is that it’s described by behindthename.com as the usual medieval form of Matilda. I love discovering things like that! (Maybe Matilda with the nickname Maude would be something they’d like to consider?)

As you all know, I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. It’s not usually very helpful for parents with unusual taste, however, which is often when I go to the Baby Name Wizard web site, as its Name Matchmaker tool has a much larger database of names. I did so here, and also looked through my book of Marian names for ideas. The ideas I’m offering here are all those that I consider good matches for Emily and her hubby’s style; I’ll discuss Epiphany names afterward:

Girl
(1) Gwenfair, Mairwen
My first suggestion is from my book of Marian names! These two names were some of my favorite finds when I was researching and writing my book — they’re Welsh, and they’re basically the same name, just with the elements reversed! The Mair part (becomes “fair” in Gwenfair) is Mary, and the Gwen/wen part means “white, fair, blessed.” I love how feminine, unusual, and Marian they are! The Mair/fair parts rhyme with “fire” in Welsh, which makes them a little hard to say in English, but I think one can choose to use the pronunciations that rhyme with “care.”

(2) Carys, Charis
Carys is one of my favorite Welsh names. I love the sound, the spelling, and the meaning of “love.” I also love the name Charis, which is said the same as Carys, and is Greek for “favor, grace, gratitude” and is contained within the word Eucharist (I know of a family who named their daughter Charis because of the Eucharist connection!). It’s funny that Carys is similar in style to Llewyn and Charis is more like Linus! I like either one for this family.

(3) Genevieve
Genevieve is heavily influenced by Magdalena and Anastasia on Emily’s list — those long, flowy, gorgeous names. I think Genevieve fits in really well with that feeling, and I love that it’s French like Leonie on her list.

(4) Rosalie
Rosalie is a style match for Lawrence, and I immediately loved it for this family! It’s feminine and flowery with a vintage feel, and it can be considered a Marian name as well, via “rose.”

(5) Flora
Finally, I was thrilled to see that Flora is a style match for both Linus and Maude!! It’s feminine and flowery, literally!, and I really like it with Llewyn and Linus. Flora Maude? That is really striking me as just an amazingly vintage-chic-turned-cutting-edge name.

Boy
(1) Casper, Caspian
My number one suggestion for another boy is Casper! Though I’ll discuss Epiphany names after these official suggestions, Casper is an Epiphany name that makes my list of official suggestions because it’s a style match for Linus! As a matter of fact, when I was reading Emily’s email before I ever did any research for her, I’d scribbled Casper down because it just seemed like it would fit their style. I was so excited to see it explicitly listed with Linus in the BNW! Casper is one of the names traditionally given to one of the Three Wise Men, and is also sometimes seen as Caspar, Gaspar, and Jasper — they’re all variants of the same name.

I couldn’t not suggest Caspian, and since it’s similar to Casper, I thought I’d group them together. Caspian was inspired by Cyprian, with its similar appearance, and by Llewyn, with its reminiscence of Narnia (at least to me!). Such a fun name!

(2) Tristan
Tristan is an Old French name with ties to the Celtic world through literature, and it’s also an entry in my Marian name book in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. I would love it as a brother to Llewyn and Linus!

(3) Gareth, Garrett
Gareth is, like Tristan, another Arthurian name that was listed as a style match for Llewyn. As far as I know it’s not a saint’s name BUT it made me think of the similar Garrett (which does have saintly connections, as it’s derived from either Gerard or Gerald), and I know of a family who named a son Garrett because of their devotion to St. Margaret (the “garet” at the end of Margaret was used to inspire Garrett as a first name) — Margarethe is the Danish and German form of Margaret, so I could see Gareth being used in the same way. I like them both!

(4) Hugo, Hugh
Hugo is a style match for Linus and Hugh is a match for Maude so I figured we were swirling in the right area! Hugh also has that Celtic feel, which fits in well with Llewyn. Hugo nicknamed Hugh, maybe?

(5) Gregor
Gregor is actually the Scottish form of Gregory, which gives it a nice Celtic feel like Llewyn, while having St. Gregory the Great (or any of the Sts. Gregory) as patron, which fits right in line with Linus. I love that!

(6) Bram
I had one extra boy name that I just couldn’t not mention! Bram is a style match for Colm, and is one of my favorite names — it’s been on my own list forever! It’s a short form of Abraham, which gives it a faith connection, and Irish author Bram Stoker (Dracula) gives it a Celtic feel. It can be said to rhyme with “ram,” which I think emphasizes its connection to Abraham, or it can be said to rhyme with “bomb,” which I believe is how Bram Stoker said it, and has more of a Dracula feel with that pronunciation I think.

Now for my Epiphany ideas!

Girl
(1) Theophania, Tiffany, Tiphanie, Tiphaine
I remember feeling so excited when I found out that Tiffany is the medieval form of Theophania (Theophany is another name for the Epiphany) and according to behindthename.com it “was traditionally given to girls born on the Epiphany (January 6)” — how cool is that?! I know Tiffany isn’t compatible with most current parents’ name taste, but I think Theophania might be perfect for this family — it’s like Theodore on their boy list, and is long and frilly like Magdalena and Anastasia! Tiphanie is a cool spelling if they like the sound of Tiffany but want to distance themselves a little, and the French Tiphaine, said like “TEE-FEN,” is sort of gorgeous. Even if they don’t like these as first names, maybe they’d do as a middle?

(2) Epiphany, Epifania
Epiphany is also used as a given name, if they wanted to be more explicit. Epifania is the Spanish and Italian variant, which is really pretty.

(3) Stella, Estelle
Stella means “star,” and could refer to the star that the three kings followed. I feel like it could fit in well on Emily’s girl list! Estelle is the French variant, which has a nice rhythm as well.

(4) Reyes, Regina, Reina, Reine
Reyes is a Spanish name used for both boys and girls, and is actually in my Marian names book because it’s usually used (as I understand it) in honor of Our Lady of the Kings (Nuestra Señora de los Reyes). But Reyes literally means “kings,” so it’s perfect for an Epiphany baby as well! If they wanted to use a strictly feminine variant, the Latin Regina, the Spanish Reina (RAY-na), and the French Reine (REN) are the feminine variants of Rex (king) — but of course they mean “queen,” which might feel too far from the point of an Epiphany name.

(5) Sophia, Wisdom, Sage, Reina
Names meaning “wise” or “wisdom” can suit too, for the Three Wise Men. They already have Sophia on their list! Wisdom itself is also used as a given name. Sage means “wise person,” and in a very cool coincidence, Reina — Spanish for “queen,” as noted above — has separate usage as a Japanese name meaning “wise”! That’s amazing!

Boy
(1) Casper, Balthazar, Melchior (Melker, Melchor)
I mentioned Casper above as one of the names traditionally associated with one of the Three Kings; Balthazar and Melchior are the other two. I was also intrigued by the Swedish form of Melchior: Melker, and the Spanish form: Melchor — I thought they both might be easier to live with?

(2) Rex, Reyes
Rex is Latin for “king,” and Reyes — as noted above — is a Spanish name used for both boys and girls, and it means “kings.”

(3) Frodo, Wisdom, Sage
Frodo is actually derived from the Germanic element for “wise” (frod)! Maybe that’s taking the fantasy thing too far? Or maybe it’s perfect! If they like it but aren’t sure, maybe they’d feel more comfortable with it as a middle name? Wisdom and Sage, both of which I mentioned for girls, are also used for boys.

(4) Theophanes, Theofanis, Feofan
These are the masculine variants of Theophania, which I discussed above (the first is Ancient Greek, the second is modern Greek, the third is Russian) — since they’re so close to Theodore on Emily’s list, they might be perfect! The first two can take Theo as a nickname as well, or Ted(dy) if they prefer. Or something like Finn can work as a nickname for all of them!

And those are all my ideas/thoughts/suggestions for Emily and her husband! What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Llewyn and Linus?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!