Christina had her moment in the 80s. Valentine shows up every February 14. But how ’bout this elegant choice?
Thanks to Mary for suggesting Valentina as Baby Name of the Day.
If you’d never noticed Valentina, the birth of Salma Hayek’s daughter Valentina Paloma in 2007 probably caught your attention. But Valentina probably owes her rise – and her current rank of #207 – not to a starbaby, but to parents’ passion for elaborate feminine choices like Alexandra and Isabella.
In fact, Valentina’s rise is strikingly similar to Isabella’s journey. She entered the rankings in 1994 at #954, hit the top 500 less than a decade later, and kept climbing. Should parents abandon Seraphina and Evangeline in favor of more tailored options, Valentina could slow down. But neither has happened yet.
By 2009, Valentina stood at #207 in the US. She’s even more popular globally, ranking in the Top Ten in Argentina and Chile, and the Top 100s of Italy and Austria.
It’s a great choice for a globe-trotting baby who will fill up a passport before she learns to walk.
Valentina is also ideal for parents interested in meaning. She’s derived from the Latin valens – strong. One or more saints, a short-lived pope and a pair of Roman Emperors answered to Valentinus. The name has remained in use, changing little as he was adopted throughout Europe.
If we follow Valentina across the globe, we should start in Russia. Kiev-born fashion designer Valentina fled the Bolsheviks in 1917, picking up a wealthy American husband on her way. From her Madison Avenue boutique, she dressed society women and notable actresses, including Greta Garbo – with whom her husband later conducted a scandalous affair.
On a different note, Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. Selected from a pool of over 400 applicants, Tereshkova’s adventure took place in June of 1963.
From Russia to Italy, there’s also Milanese actress Valentina Cortese. Her long career included an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her 1975 performance as Severine in Day for Night. The world of comics give us two more Italian Valentinas – Guido Crepax’s Valentina featured a photojournalist in Milan. His Valentina series ran into 1995, and was seriously NC-17 at times. In the late 1960s, Marvel Comics Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD series included La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine.
The Latina Valentinas are the most recent wave. I’m guessing here, but I think that’s about Andrés Calamaro, a major force in Argentine music from the 1990s forward, with a big following in Spain, too. He recorded a single titled Valentina.
If you’re looking for a decidedly feminine name that’s less expected than Olivia or Samantha, Valentina qualifies. She’s less expected than Victoria or Alexandra, but just as robust. And yet, she’s not the rare gem that parents might think. Just like plenty of little Isabellas were surprised to meet another (and another and another), that could be Valentina’s experience in a few years, especially with that vibrant, oh-so-popular V.