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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Using the Name Natalie for a Baby Who Isn't Born at Christmas

P. writes:
One of my husband's favorite names for a girl is Natalie. I think it's a lovely name, but I get stuck on the meaning: it means "born at Christmas," which our child most decidedly will not be. SSA indicates that Natalie ranked at #16 for girls in 2009, so clearly many families are using it for babies born nowhere near Christmastime. But I feel like eventually the child will want to look up the meaning of her name, and finding out that her name means "born at Christmas" when she was, in fact, born in March might be a little confusing/disappointing. Do you think "Christmas baby" when you hear the name Natalie?

I think of it only in one direction: that is, if I am trying to think of names for a Christmas baby, I immediately think of Natalie---but if I hear the name Natalie, I don't think "Christmas baby."

Also, I'm not sure WHY it means "born at Christmas": I recognized "natal" as being connected to childbirth, but adding an "ie" at the end wouldn't give it a Christmas connection. I found online that the name Natalie comes from "Natale Domini" and "Dies Natalis," both of which mean Christmas Day---but that's because they both translate as "the day of God's birth." Dies and Domini are the God part; Natale and Natalis are the birth day part. So the INTENTION of the name Natalie was to have a name in honor of Christmas---but the roundabout method for doing so means that the part they ended up actually using was "birthday."

This is one of many reasons I find name meanings (or often "meanings") unimportant. I definitely think you can go ahead and use Natalie for a baby born in March, just as you could use Melissa for a baby who wasn't a bumblebee, or Lily for a baby who wasn't a flower, or Roman for a U.S. citizen, or Rufus for a baby with brown hair, or Isis for a mere mortal.

35 comments:

Caroline said...

Well, I grew up knowing that my name means "the feminine form of Charles", and it didn't scar me (much). Natalie is such a pretty name, and if you love it, I say go with it.

Alison aka Baby B said...

I agree whole heartedly with Swistle. And, Swistle, such a nice but funny answer! My name supposedly means "noble," and I come from working class stock. No fancy pedigree here. :)

Christine said...

If he loves it and you love it, use it! For what it's worth, despite the Christmas connection, Natalie Portman is Jewish, and her parents saw fit to use it. Technically Natalie is from the root "natal" meaning born/birth, Natalie's meaning should be "birthday" rather than Christmas.

Plus Natalie is such a pretty name, that I feel gets looked over a lot.

Good luck!

Carmen said...

My son has blue eyes and the blondest hair you've ever seen. His name is Kieran. Friends wanted to use his name, but waited until their baby was born to decide, because they didn't want to use a name that meant "black" unless their baby was dark-haired. I'm pretty sure that Kieran won't be upset if he looks up the meaning and realizes that he's not, actually, "black". I say, use Natalie and don't give it another moment of worry.

beyond said...

absolutely, swistle is quite right. if you and your husband love it, use it. such a pretty name!

The Wonder Worrier said...

Natalie is a wonderful name, any time of year. I never think of it as relating to Christmas, it's just a lovely girls name!

Rachel said...

My name is Rachel, which means "ewe, a female sheep" and I am actually a human. I do remember being disappointed when I found out what my name meant but I got over it immediately because I love my name. Natalie is a lovely name and I do not associate it with Christmas at all. Before reading this if I had met someone named Natalie whose birthday was December 25 I wouldn't have put the 2 together.

MelissaInk Designs said...

Think of all the lovely English worker names that are popular now - Cooper, Porter, Parker, Mason, etc. No one cares :) I'd be more concerned it if meant something negative - other than that, I don't think it much matters.

StephLove said...

I do like it when a name's meaning matches up to the child in question, but my daughter has a month name and it's not the month of her birth so clearly I'm not too strict about it.

e said...

one of my best friends is a Natalie born in March!

Catherine said...

If it's the name you love please don't worry about meanings! Having studied Latin I can say that the name itself has a lot more to with birth than Christmas just like Swistle mentioned. Historically it may have picked that up, but if you're concerned about meanings you can remember that. We came very close to using it for our daughter who happened to be born close to Christmas, but it didn't influence the decision in either direction.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

It's a lovely name! And this question kind of addresses one of my own- can I name a boy August who isn't born in August?

kanah said...

USE NATALIE!!!!

Swistle said...

Barb @ getupandplay - I even think of it the opposite way: i.e., that I WOULDN'T name a child August if he were born in August, or a girl April if she were born in April---only if they were born in a different month.

Bethtastic said...

I'm with everyone else. Use Natalie. It's beautiful!
I'm also with Swistle that I don't give much thought to meanings.

We have a daughter named Tara (rhymes with Sarah), and for school she had to find out her name's meaning. Um. It means Rocky Terrace. Which was a little disappointing to her 5-yo self. Fortunately, I dug a little deeper and found out in Sanskrit it means Star. Which appeased her.

We liked the name Tara. Didn't even know it's meaning until that assignment. Wouldn't have changed it if we did!

And for the record. My name is Beth. And it means House in Hebrew. Like Rachel above, I am a human. ;)
(What a fun post!)

Anonymous said...

I have no idea of the origin, but there is a Christmas song that is Buon Natalia (not sure of the spelling) and the song says it means Merry Christmas in Italian. So maybe that's the origin.

I totally don't think of a Christmas baby when I hear the name and I know at least 2 Natalie's that weren't born at Christmas.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Thanks, Swistle! I appreciate the feedback- it's been bugging me, since two of my favorite names are June (for a girl) and August (for a boy).

Natalie said...

My name is Natalie, I was born in July. It's never bugged me. Use Natalie!

natalee215 said...

My name is Natalee and I was born in October. I've never even thought about this. My parents named me after the actress Natalie Wood so I think of that, not Christmas.

Sam said...

Oh Swistle. I love you. And the name Natalie. But I might want to change my name to Isis.

LadyT said...

i am sooo glad P asked this question!

Currently my top girl's name is Noelle. It has been Noelle for roughly 10 years now. I'm 29. And my husband LIKES THE NAME Woo hoo!!!

My husband (33) and I are preparing ourselves TTC....and if it's a girl and she wasn't born near Christmas I was worried that it would be wierd. I was actually strongly considering changing our plans to hopefully get the baby closer to Christmas....

Would the rational for P. apply to us as well? I think most people associate Noelle with Christmas...due to the carol and all....would it be enough for us to simply say that Christmas is a beautiful time of year, why NOT name her after it? (if it is a girl that is. we're totally locked and loaded on 'Nathan' or 'Isaiah' for a boy. No, we weren't going specifically for an 'N' theme. Those are just the names we love, lol)

LadyT said...

oh wow...how self centered of me! I failed to mention that I also LOVE the name Natalie. It's gorgeous and I think P can pick it with no qualms at all.

my best friend's sister is named Natalie. I believe her bday is in August. She's a very nice woman.

Swistle said...

LadyT- Yes, I definitely think Noelle works all year. I think it's fun to use certain names (Joy, Noelle, Natalie, Caroline, Eve) near the holidays, but they work all year round.

Joanne said...

I am such a dumbbell it never even occurred to me that Natalie was associated with Christmas. I'm with everyone else - use the name, it's lovely. And if little Natalie ever asks about it, you can tell her that every day with her is Christmas Day or something. :)

Patricia said...

I know a family with a Noelle and a Natalie, and I'm pretty sure those girls weren't born at Christmas.

I don't see any reason not to call your baby Natalie. It's a very pretty name!

Magic27 said...

Here in France, Nathalie used to be a hugely popular name (probably like Jennifer in the US in the 1970s?) but is pretty rare in little girls now. And it certainly has no Christmas connotations here. It's a beautiful name and one I would have liked to have used for one of my girls, but their (French) dad vetoed it because it was too "old-fashioned but not trendy old-fashioned". Even Noël (for a boy) and Noelle (for a girl) are usable outside of the holiday season here - and Noël is the actual French word for Christmas!
P - Like everyone else, I think you should totally use Natalie; it's a lovely name!

Lady said...

@ Swistle- That's a pleasure to know. It's nice to get 3rd party confirmation since we'll be those people who don't discuss our possible names before the birth with any brick and mortar friends..

Anonymous said...

Huh. I never associated Natalie with Christmas/the winter holiday season. Noelle, Natalia, Holly, etc, yeah...but never Natalie, for some reason.

It's a pretty name; I'd totally use it! I don't think it matters what the name means or what it's association is (as long as it's not negative). I mean, look at babies named June that were born in October, or any of Swistle's examples.

Christina said...

I have NEVER heard of this association! I don't think many people know the meanings of names (outside of their own or their children's names) so it would probably never occur to them. I say if you like it, then use it!

Maggie said...

If the child evernasks when older, just tell her thatnshe was the best present you ever received, making very day with her your very own joyful day like Christmas.

And she will either buy it, and feel special, or be old enough to think her parents are a little nutty and then she won't ask again. Until she tells her own children, with a great big smile on her face....

Natalie said...

Another Natalie born nowhere near Christmas (June) and the meaning was never bothersome to me. I was named after the actress, not the holiday.

Anonymous said...

Still cracking up about the last paragraph: Roman is OK for a U.S. Citizen, and you don't have to give birth to a bumblebee to use Melissa! I love this! I am with you about not worrying so much about meaning. My sister is named Teresa and I have always loved it, but it means 'to reap'. What a weird meaning for such a great name! I like Natalie. Use it!

Natalie said...

My name is Natalie and I live it. I do have some nn: Nata and my mom calls me Natalya.I was about 7 when I found out what my name meant( btw it also means " nativity"). I thought it was so cool that it meant that. I wasn't born in December but Christmas is my favorit holiday! I was born on July 25, I guess you could think of that as Christmas in July because then my b- day would be Christmas, but my parents didn't know that when they named me. @ the last anonymous my sister's name is Theresa! Btw just some extra info, my other sis is Hannah.

Natalie said...

Oops! I meant *love

Yours, x said...

Hey, I'm a Natalie, and I did feel slightly deflated when I found I was named 'born on Christmas Day' when I in actual fact had an October birthday. BUT I love my name! So I did some more research and although the Latin root means 'birth' specifically, in CONTEXT it definitely translates as Christ's birthday or 'Christmas'. For example in Italian the greeting Merry Christmas is Buon Natale. Natalie means Christmas, basically! How awesome to name your child after the best holiday in the calendar??
Some in the past may have names their children after the birth of Christ at around the time of Christmas to honour their faith, but the name in context specifically means Christ's birthday - Christmas, 'Christ was born on Christmas Day.' Natalie is therefore not confined to girls born specifically on 25th December :), don't worry, it's just a name in celebration of Christmas.