Those Europeans... they're so cool. Their movie endings are dark and weird, they give new moms a million months maternity leave, and they call night clubs "discos." What's not to love about the Euro way of life? Perhaps I should ask Theresa May... but in the meantime, let's talk baby names. Specifically, let's take a look at the top baby names in Europe, so that we may emulate those cool Europeans and their super cool babies.
So what are they? Fromage, Kilometer, Aluminium, and Leidensplein? Shockingly, no! (Though if the Beckhams reproduce again, I would not be surprised to hear of an Aluminium Marie.) Actually, many of the names are similar to what's popular in the states. Sofia and Jackson appear to be beloved by the Western world in general. Perhaps this can be chucked up to globalization? Or Disney Princesses? Or Bradley Cooper playing a sexy alcoholic? Regardless, I’m going to hold out hope that some of the more unique and interesting European names make a comeback. The world can always use more Glenervas, I think. Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the most popular baby names in countries where it’s perfectly acceptable to make dinner plans for 10 p.m.
According to The Huffington Post, Louise is a big hit with the female bebes of France. Though if one is looking for an L name with a little more rock and roll, Lola is also very popular among the Frenchies. I was surprised to learn that the sassy-sounding "Lola" actually means sorrow. (Which, no doubt, the child will feel every time some dork sings that Kinks song to her, and then grins like they are a comedic genius.)
The Iceland Review cites Gudmundar (pronounced gooth-moondur) as one of the most common names for Icelandic boys. This rad little moniker might sound a little heavy and stoic to the American ear — like the baby would be frowning and wearing one of those leather trench coats from The Matrix — but guess what it's often shortened to? Gummi! That's right. As in the delicious edible bears/worms/cannabis treats enjoyed by concert and theater-goers everywhere.
For girls, there is the equally consonant-heavy Gudrun. Which is pronounced pretty much like it sounds. Both names have a strong, take-no-shit quality to them, and one should expect nothing less from the country that gave Bjork.
The Telegraph reported that the Spanish are big on calling little boys Hugo. For me, the name conjures images of a playful mischief-maker building flying machines out of kites and kitchen chairs. And perhaps rightly so, as it means "bright in mind and spirit." Which will be good to remember when sweet little Hugo is raking all of the applesauce off the grocery shelves in a rage. He is merely bright in spirit, Mamá!
For ninas, the name Lucia ranks high. A lovely name meaning "light," it is also one of those names where the child will spend her days telling people how to pronounce it. Loo-cha, loo-chee-uh or loo-see-uh?
The Greek City Times listed Agnes as the favorite for Greek girls. Though I am partial to another popular "A" name the Greeks are fond of: Aikaterini. A fancier version of Katherine, Aikaterini is not only melodic and pretty, every time one calls for their child it will sound a bit like they are casting a spell, a la "Expelliarmus!"
Meanwhile, for boys they favor Alexander. Which is a perfectly respectable name, of course, though it does not sound like it has the supernatural power to turn an enemy's legs into garden rakes. Which may be a pro or con, depending on one's sensibility.
In Germany, there are actually quite a few rules and restrictions when it comes to choosing a child's name. The site Expatica explained that a name has to first be given the OK by the Standesamt — the office of the population register. A child's name can't be absurd or mocking. Nor can it be a place, brand, or associated with evil. So any Germans dreaming of one day naming their precious offspring "Cadillac Demon Scrotum Toes," I'm afraid they'll need to relocate.
Considering the various restrictions, it might not come as a surprise that the most popular names in Germany are staid, simple, tried, and true. Expatica listed Ben for boys, and for the girls, another three simple letters: Mia.
The Irish are renowned for their many lyrical names that look like eye test charts to the non-Irish. (Tadgh, Aoife, and Dearbhla, anyone?) Unlike our Jasons and Stacys, so many of their names are instantly recognizable as coming from the land of Guinness and green. Nowadays, however, the Irish seem to be playing it safe, as The Irish Times listed their most popular names to currently be Jack and Emily.
The Local.it noted that Francesco claims the crown for boys' names in Italy. It means "free one", though according to the (always reliable) Urban Dictionary, it also means: "A very very sexy man from Italian descent. Great personality, very athletic and smart, all the girls love him!" (Not sure who wrote this, though I guess I can assume it was a man named Todd?)
For little girls, the Local.it listed Sofia. Which is a gorgeous name, I agree, though when I hear the words "Italy" and "Sofia" I shall forever think of Estelle Getty asking someone to "Picture it...Sicily...1922...."
Whether one hails from Reykjavik or Rochester, all parents know that when selecting a child's name, it's important to imagine screaming it across a park/restaurant/Home Depot. As a resident of Brooklyn, I've had the pleasure of watching furious, red-faced parents bellow: "Thor! Do not spit your sweet potato puffs on the pigeons!" and "Amadeus! I said no throwing sand!" And it has brought me great joy.