Monday, February 28, 2011

What's In A (Middle) Name?

My friend just had a baby last week. I knew what she was having, and what she was going to name her, but the surprise was the middle name. She ended up giving her the middle name of Virginia. I loved it because it sounded perfect with her first and last name, and it happens to be where she is from. My friend kept her maiden name and she wanted to find somewhere to use it in her daughters names, but it didn't fit. This was a nice way to add in a little of her lineage.

It got me thinking about middle names though. I did some research on when in history they became referred to as "middle" names. It was't until 1835. There are so many different reasons why people use middle names too. Either to recognize someone else in the family, or a person of importance, or sometimes the name was just the runner up to the first. The middle name is hardly ever used, except for legal documents or when a parent is mad.

We decided to give our daughter as many names as we wanted. Her first name is after two grandmothers, her second is after another grandmother, her third is my maiden name and then the last name. It's a lot and no US legal document leaves room for more than one name. In non-English speaking countries multiple middle names are common. Middle intitials are interesting too. Amish people often just use a middle initial that was the first letter of their mother's maiden name. Then there are people with a given first name that never gets used. Paul McCartney's first name is really James. Personally, I don't get that. If it isn't going to get used, why is first? Unless he hated James, and just felt like a Paul.

So many of my friends have given up their middle names when they got married and put the former last name in it's place. I didn't because I liked my whole name when I got married and didn't feel like I should have to lose anything, so I just added a new ending to it. Culturally and religiously, there are many reasons for the signifigance of middle names and I always like to hear about the history of a name. I find it fascinating when people are the fifth generation with the same name, and how they were able to keep everybody straight.

I don't know why I find middle names so interesting, but I always have. When I get to know someone for the first time, I right away notice eye color. I can tell you the eye color of everyone I have ever talked to. If I get talk to someone long enough I always ask their middle names. It just like an added extra fact that usually has a story behind it. When people have a really common first name and then an extreamly unusual middle name, I like to hear how that came to pass. My all-time favorite is that my friends daughter's middle name is Wednesday. Not because that was the day she was born or when her parents went on their first date. The reason was because my friend's husband is very seriously in love with comic books and Wednsday is the day new comic books come out. So I guess you can really go crazy on a middle name. Why not? I'm the only one who seems that interested in them anyway.

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