Baby naming traditions from around the world

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


Baby Naming Traditions From Around the WorldSource: Huffington Post

Japanese TraditionsJapanese families hold a baby naming ceremony on the seventh night after a newborns birth called, Oshichiya Meimeishiki. Once a name is chosen, the father has it handwritten in Japanese calligraphy on the Meimeisho (a name certificate in the form a scroll or poster), which is displayed in the home. It was once common for baby girls to receive virtuous names that end in -ko, which means child (ex.Yoshiko means "good child"). When families were larger, Japanese boys were often named according to their birth order (ex. Ichiro means first son).

Akan TraditionsThe Akan people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast follow a unique naming system. A childs first name typically corresponds with the day of the week they were born and their sex (an Akan male born on Monday would be called "Kwadwo," and Akan female born on Monday would be called "Adwoa"). Babies can also receive names based on the circumstances of their birth, their birth order or whether they are a twin. Variations of this naming practice are used across West Africa and the African diaspora.

Hawaiian TraditionsTraditionally, Hawaiians believed that a persons name was their greatest possession and had the power to influence their life. A unique and meaningful name was thoughtfully chosen for every child. A name could be passed down to relatives from the gods via signs, visions or dreams. A child could also be named after a family member, or according to the circumstances of their birth. Additionally, the moniker chosen had to align with the familys social class, and could never be taken from another family. Authentic Hawaiian names were unisex, and in addition to its literal meaning, a childs name also had symbolic meanings that only the family knew.

Jewish TraditionsSephardic and Mizrahi Jews traditionally name a child after a living relative. Ashkenazi Jews, on the other hand, will often give a child a name that honours a deceased relative. However, it is considered bad luck for both the child and their namesake if the infant is named after a living relative. Parents may keep the baby's name a secret until the official naming ceremony, which is held when the baby is eight days old. Children often receive a Hebrew name and an English name.

Chinese TraditionsTraditionally, Chinese parents named a newborn 100 days after their birth. Now parents have one month before they must register a childs name. During this period, a superstitious practice was to give a baby a milk name that was offensive, such as mud face or excrement. This revolting name was believed to keep evil spirits away from the child during their fragile first days. A childs milk name may stick with them as a nickname throughout childhood. In Chinese tradition, much thought is put into naming a child, as it is believed that a name can influence a persons life. Therefore, a name typically expresses the familys hopes for a childs future. Parents draw inspiration from a child's birth date and the five elements. It is taboo to name a child after a celebrity, an elder, a ruler or a historical figure.

Inuit TraditionsThe Inuit believe that a name is an essential part of a person, carrying with it certain skills and character traits. Parents choose the name of a deceased loved one, called an "atiq" or "soul name," a few days after he or she is born. Only then are they considered a complete person. The Inuit believe that child will receive the relative's spirit and traits. The child must also adopt the kinship terms that their namesake used (ie. if a child is named after their mothers father, she may refer to the child as father). They also believe a newborn will stop crying once the correct name has been chosen. The mother also has the option of choosing the name of a deceased relative that appeared to her in a dream while she was pregnant or one that had a similar birthmark to her childs.

Egyptian TraditionsEgyptians have a naming ceremony called Sebou held seven days after a childs birth. To settle any controversy surrounding the baby's name, some parents decide on at least three names and assign each name to a candle. The candles are lit at the beginning of the ceremony, and the child will take the name of the candle that burns the longest.

Hindu TraditionsHindus consider naming a baby to be a sacred practice. Hindu families hold a naming ceremony called "Namakaran" or "Naamkaran Sanskar" on the 11th night of a childs life or even later in certain communities. A family priest or an astronomer often chooses the first letter of the childs name based on the date and time of their birth, as well as the alignment of the stars and planets at that time. Its considered lucky for the child to receive a name that begins with this letter. In some communities, the naming ceremony is performed by the paternal aunt who chooses a name for the child and whispers it into his or her ears, before announcing it to the family.

Islam TraditionsA baby is named on the seventh day after his or her birth. The mother and father decide on an Islamic name together that has a positive or virtuous meaning. Parents often name their children in honour of the prophets, such as Ali, Ibrahim or Mohammed. It is not uncommon for siblings to share the same name.At the Doopmal (name-giving ceremony), prayers are said for the future protection of the baby. It is customary to give out sugar and dates to ensure a sweet future for the child. Traditionally, the baby is dressed in a medoura, a scarf embroidered with gold thread and decorated with fresh flowers.


View more >