Thanks to Em for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
If you took Spanish 101, you might recognize this word.
Of Spanish origin, Cielo means sky. But it’s also the word for heaven.
And it’s the latter meaning that transforms this word into the baby name Cielo.
MARIA, REINA DEL CIELO
If you’re Catholic, Mary, Queen of Heaven probably sounds familiar.
In Latin, it’s Regina Caeli.
And, back to Spanish, it’s Reina de los Cielos.
The theological concept underpinning the title is ancient. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was bodily assumed into heaven. It’s celebrated on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, familiar to anyone who has toured a gallery of Renaissance art. And the Regina Caeli prayer dates to the twelfth century or so.
But there’s an interesting thing about this title, and the related ideas about Mary in general. Many of them weren’t formalized until the middle of the twentieth century.
Pope Pius XII authored Ad caeli reginam – To the Queen of Heaven – in 1954. The Second Vatican Council expanded on the idea in 1964, referring to her by the title Mary, Queen of the Universe.
So it’s quite modern, really, a title much fresher than, say, Our Lady of Guadalupe or Stella Maris/Star of the Sea.
Because a great many Marian titles become names, this helps explain why Cielo wasn’t especially common until recent years.
While they’re heard in many cultures, Marian titles are especially popular in Spanish – think of Pilar or Dolores, Milagros or Rosario.
Just like Nuestra Señora del Consuelo was shortened to Consuelo and Our Lady of Mount Carmel became just Carmel, so Maria del Cielo became Cielo.
It’s tempting to translate Maria del Cielo as “Mary of the Sky,” but that glosses over an awful lot of history and religious significance.
Churches and convents with this name can be found around the world, from Rome, Italy to Hyde Park, New York and Bettendorf, Iowa. Mexico City boasts a church by the name that doubles as a national monument.
But how did Cielo transition from lofty Marian title to familiar girl’s name?
As so often happens, it’s down to a telenovela – a Spanish-language soap opera. Cielo spiked in use – rising quickly and high. That’s the hallmark of a telenovela name.
Mexico’s Por tu amor – For your love – premiered in 1999.
Actress Gabriela Spanic played Maria del Cielo.
Here’s the plot: small town girl Maria del Cielo is perfectly happy in her sleepy village. Until wealthy and mysterious Marco Duran arrives. He falls for her, but she’s not interested. In fact, she’s already engaged to marry the local doctor.
Of course, it’s a soap opera. Drama ensues.
Cielo slowly starts to fall for Marco. But further roadblocks keep them apart, even after Cielo accepts his marriage proposal.
It was widely broadcast across the Spanish-speaking world through 2000 and 2001. That was more than enough to push the name into the US Top 1000, at least for a few years.
CIEL, CIELLE, CIELA
Variations of Cielo include Ciel – the French word for sky and heaven.
Cielle makes it a little more name-like in our age of Brielle.
Ciela is another possibility, along with possibly Ciella.
Model Niki Taylor welcomed daughter Ciel in 2008.
But no spelling has emerged as a particularly common name in the US – at least, notwithstanding the spike in use around Por tu amor.
Famous people by the name are almost exclusively Latina.
There’s the salsa singer from Peru, Cielo Torres.
Argentine writer Cielo Latini is also widely known.
But none of these notable people explain the name’s new burst of popularity.
Instead, it’s a Canadian singer and his Argentine-American actress, model, and singer wife that put the baby name Cielo on parents’ radar.
CIELO YOLI ROSE
High profile couple Michael Bublé and Luisana Lopilato welcomed their fourth child in 2022.
Already parents to sons Noah and Elias and daughter Vida Amber Betty, they announced the newest pregnancy in a video for Michael’s song “I’ll Never Not Love You.”
Cielo Yoli Rose joined the family in August 2022.
BY the NUMBERS
Way back in 1977, five girls were named Cielo in the US. That’s the minimum number required for a name to appear in the US Social Security Administration’s publicly-released data set.
During Por tu amor’s heyday, the baby name Cielo charted in the US Top 1000, reaching #895 in 2000 and #886 in 2001.
The name declined in use afterwards, but only slightly.
That high profile birth announcement in August was enough to push the name to #998 in 2022.
This time, the baby name Cielo hits differently than it did in 2000/2001. Consider:
- Girl names ending with O are rising in use, from nature names like Willow to surnames like Harlow and traditional choices like Margot.
- It’s a nature name and a spiritual one, too – two categories of name powerfully appealing to twenty-first century parents.
- It’s potentially unisex. In fact, 25 boys received the name in 2022 – a new high.
As for other Ciel- names:
- 24 girls were named Ciel, along with 26 boys
- An additional 24 girls were named Ciela
- Ciella was given to 16 girls
- And 14 girls were named Cielle
- Six girls were named Maricielo, a smooth of Maria del Cielo
Another factor explaining the baby name Cielo’s potential?
It sounds like a twist on classics like Cecilia and Sophia, but with a more modern sensibility.
Depending on your perspective, it’s either a unique sound or a perfectly mainstream one.
It’s fresher than antique favorites with similar meanings, like the elegant Celeste.
SPARKY and SPIRITUAL
The baby name Cielo offers a mix of spirituality and the natural world.
It fits with meaningful names like Bodhi and Pax.
Cielo could mkae a bold middle name
But as a first name Cielo would be ahead of the trends. It might just be the next big English-Spanish crossover name, a choice with flawless style and meaning in more than one culture and language.