Thanks to Lynne for suggesting Sunday as our Baby Name of the Day.
Sunday is a day of rest, and you go to church in your Sunday best – positive associations, both. But they’re also at least vaguely religious, or maybe outrageously so, depending on your perspective.
Then again, the roots of Sunday are with the Old English sunnandeag – sun’s day. It’s used in other Germanic languages, too, ultimately borrowed from the Latin dies solis – day of the sun. That’s a peaceful reference, an almost pagan concept, certainly not a Christian one.
But then came the early Christians, and in the second century St. Justin tells us they typically gathered for worship on Sunday. Those in the club would’ve referred to it as “the Lord’s Day,” but Justin wrote for a broader audience. They convened on Sunday because they believed Jesus’ resurrection took place on a Sunday. The Russian word for Sunday translates literally into resurrection day.
If you’re up on your Russian history – or into U2 – you might think “Bloody Sunday.” In 1905, a peaceful protest at the Tsar’s palace in St. Petersburg turned tragic when soldiers opened fire on the unarmed crowds. Several other incidents have shared the name throughout history, including a 1972 protest in Northern Ireland that would inspire U2’s 1983 single “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
It’s not the kind of reference that would inspire parents, and yet there are kids named Sunday in the US Census record. More than a few are boys – in fact, it looks like the name was more common for men. Some of that is likely due to turn-of-the-century athlete-turned-preacher Billy Sunday, a leading advocate of Prohibition, among other reforms. There are even boys named Billy Sunday, first and middle.
In recent years, Sunday emerged as a name to consider thanks to Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. Their older daughter, Sunday Rose, is named after Australian artist and art collector Sunday Reed. Born Lelda Sunday Baillieu in 1905, part of a wealthy and well-connected Melbourne family, I can’t confirm the source of her unusual appellation. Along with husband John, she established a large farm-turned-artists’ retreat-turned-modern art museum called Heide.
Despite her reverent name, Sunday wasn’t exactly a girl scout. She had affairs with some of the artists and biographers have surfaced other details about her life that are less than flattering. But her contributions to modern art and the advancement of the arts in Australia are considerable, and it makes her a worthy namesake.
Perhaps because so many day names are considered feminine, it seems odd to think of Sunday for a boy. But the practice of bestowing a day name on a child has deep roots in some African cultures. Nia Long recently welcomed a son called Kez Sunday. Kez’ dad is the NBA’s Ime Udoka – he also shares the middle name Sunday.
If you’re looking for an arresting name for a child, Sunday fits the bill.