Consider it an early gift: a list of Christmas girl names, many of them currently ranked outside the US Top 500.
Classics like Mary fit on this list, and virtues like Joy, too. But they’re great names for any season. Some of these are truly tied to the winter holidays, name that make the most sense at the most wonderful time of the year.
Whether they’re familiar or rare, every option brings the festive, with ties to all things magical and hall-bedecking.
If you’re after something just a little bit different that captures the spirit of the season, start with this list of Christmas girl names!
We love a good nature name, from classics like Lily and Rose, to modern favorites like Willow and River. Amaryllis succeeds because it’s yet another flower name, and it makes the Christmas girl names list because it’s so linked to the season. The bulbs bloom indoors, making them just right for chilly Decembers in the much of the US. And they come in showy, seasonal colors, including bright red and red-and-white candy cane stripes.
Along with elaborated forms like Angelina and Angelique, Angela means “angel.” That makes it just right for a time for year when children everywhere dress up like Choirs of Angels and re-enact the Nativity story.
Bethlehem, the city of Jesus’ birth, could make a great seasonal choice, with built-in nicknames like Beth and Bette. Belén evolved as the Spanish form of the Biblical place name, slightly contracted from the original, but still clearly linked. In English, the temptation might be to rhyme it with Helen, but this name sounds closer to bel EHN. While it’s the most popular name on this list, many English speakers may find it brand new.
While Bella – and Isabella, Annabelle, and plenty of other names containing the sound – are fast favorites, the Christmas-y Belle remains outside of the current US Top 1000. That could make it the perfect choice for parents looking for spare, just slightly different Christmas girl names. Of course, it’s strongly associated with Beauty and the Beast, which adds some Disney princess glitter to this musical name.
A gift isn’t complete until it’s tied up with a bow. But is Bow a given name? Black-ish introduced us to Tracee Ellis Ross’ character, though there’s a whole backstory. (It’s short for Rainbow, a name chosen by her hippie parents.) Still, with Beau a favorite for boys and Bo long a potential unisex name, it’s easy to imagine Bow wearing well.
While we’re globe-trotting, Cadeau is the French word for gift. Pronounce it like the ‘ca’ in cat, followed by the do in do-re-mi. That might’ve been outlandish in another age, but this is the moment of Margot and Willow, and, of course, the boy’s name Theo, which all comes from a name meaning gift. It’s the rarest choice on this list, but I think it would work. (And could make a stunning middle, too.)
It’s hard to separate Carol from the season. We sing Christmas carols. We watch A Christmas Carol – either some version of the original, or updates like Scrooged and Spirited. The Dickens story also gives us the Cratchit family: mom Emily and daughters Martha and Belinda. Scrooge himself was once engaged to a woman named Belle. And Scrooge’s nephew Fred is married to a woman sometimes called Lily and other times named Clara – which is pretty much the perfect Christmas name double-dip.
Chances are you know the scene. The Grinch is busy robbing Whoville of its holiday accoutrements, when a small girl wakes up. Cindy Lou Who is the only named Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and she’s unforgettable.
The little girl at the heart of The Nutcracker ballet, Clara immediately sounds like a seasonal choice. The Tchaikovsky score is among the best-known pieces of classical music, and the way the toys come to life as the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve. They dance through the night to Christmas Day, an adventure that has delighted audiences for generations. Fun fact: the girl’s name was originally meant to be Marie. Her doll would be called Clara. But the switch was made somewhere between the original story and the stage adaptations, and it has stuck.
Fans of the 1964 television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will recognize Clarice immediately. She’s Rudolph’s love interest, loyal to him even when the other reindeer are cruel. The Rankin/Bass stop motion animated special has become a beloved holiday classic, putting Clarice on this list.
The Old Testament tells of a savior who will be named Emmanuel – God is with us. The Gospel of Matthew references this story, too. Why Mary went with another name, we cannot know, but Jesus is sometimes called Emmanuel over the ages. Think of the Christmas carols, like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Emmanuelle is simply the French feminine form, popular there from the 1960s into the 90s.
ESTELLA, ESTELLE (#657; #744)
The Latin stella means star, which makes this a Christmas baby name, either as the French Estelle or Latinate Estella. The latter is also literary, thanks to Estella Havisham in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Estelle belongs to a British singer, a Swedish princess expected to someday become queen, and the late comedian Estelle Getty, known as Sophia from The Golden Girls.
Another name that possibly means star, though this time from Persian, Esther is an Old Testament name worn by a fearless queen. But it’s not just the starry meaning that puts this name on the list. In 1944’s Meet Me in St. Louis, Judy Garland sang the enduring “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as character Esther Smith.
From a Hebrew name meaning “God is my strength,” Gabrielle makes this list because of masculine counterpart Gabriel. In the New Testament, he’s an angel who explains to Mary what’s to come next, namely the miraculous birth of Jesus. That makes Gabrielle – and Gabriella and Gabriela – sparkle with just a little bit of Christmas baby names magic.
The hymn “Gloria in excelsis Deo” translates to “Glory to God in the highest.” It’s also called the Hymn of the Angels, because it begins with the words the angels sang to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. Gloria, all drawn out with many extra syllables, is a Christmas staple for many of Christian faith, and seems like a musical standard.
Glory reads like an updated twist on long-established name Gloria. But it’s a little more complicated. Strictly speaking, Gloria is the Latin – and Spanish – word for glory. So let’s just say it’s been around, in one form or another, for ages. Poet Edmund Spenser called Queen Elizabeth I Gloriana; and Old Glory is a nickname for the US flag. But Glory feels specifically religious, too, and very appropriate for this time of year.
Jovie comes from the word jovial, meaning cheerful. But it’s on this list of Christmas girl names – well, it’s on our radar at all – thanks to 2003 holiday movie Elf, starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human raised among Santa’s helpers at the North Pole. Spoiler alert: Jovie ends up as Mrs. Elf. It’s joined the list of modern must-watch Christmas movies, meaning your Jovie would hear her name every December.
The name that Home Alone brings to mind is Kevin, for young Kevin McCallister, inadvertently left home by himself while his extended family rushes out the door to catch their flight to France. Kate McCallister realizes their mistake while their flight is in the air. While we tend to refer to her as Kevin’s mom, she’s the one – played masterfully by Catherine O’Hara – that stays with mothers. Sure, Kevin handily defeats the bungling pair of burglars, but Kate hitches a ride in a van carrying a polka band. A traditional favorite with a subtle Christmas twist.
Fun fact: Holly Golightly, played so famously by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, was actually named Holiday. In the UK, the word means vacation, but in the US, we tend to say “Happy Holidays,” a greeting that covers the whole winter season. It’s an unconventional choice, but not so different from Delaney and Everly, either. And nickname Holly? That’s quintessential Christmas.
Winter is rough on plants. But holly remains lovely through the darkest, coldest months. That’s why it’s been associated with the season since long before Christmas, a go-to decoration across many centuries. While the name enjoyed a good run of popularity in the 1970s and 80s, Holly is still a promising pick for a Christmas-born daughter.
Just like Holly, Ivy has been associated with winter holidays for ages. There’s even a seasonal carol, “The Holly and the Ivy,” first recorded in nineteenth century England but reflecting practices and beliefs dating into the Middle Ages.
Lucia means light, which makes this an appropriate name for the season. But it’s more than that. The thirteenth century Saint Lucia’s feast day falls on December 13th. The feast has transformed into civic holiday in Scandinavia, complete with public processions and other festivities.
The Latin word for light, Lux would fit on the list of Christmas boy names, too. But if you’re after a name that’s rare, seasonal, and gender neutral, too? Lux might be the perfect choice.
Maybe Merry is too obvious. But it’s a joyful name. Unlike Mary, it’s rare. JRR Tolkien gave the name to a Hobbit in Lord of the Rings; Charles Dickens used it as a nickname for Mercy in Martin Chuzzlewit. As a Christmas-related baby girl name, it’s both obvious and surprising.
NATALIA, NATALIE (#79; #56)
In Latin, natale domini literally means “Christmas day.” That’s the source of this pretty, popular name. Natalia is used in Spanish and Italian; Natalie is French. The most famous bearer of the name, Natalie Wood, rose to fame as a child star in Miracle on 34th Street, among the all-time classic Christmas movies.
Neve can be an Anglicized spelling of Niamh, meaning bright. It’s also the word for snow in Italian and a handful of other languages. Pronunciation varies – the Irish neev, like Eve; nay-vee in Italian; and nehv, like rev. That last one dominates in the US, thanks to Neve Campbell. It’s her mother’s (Dutch) maiden name, meaning nephew. But the ties to wintry snow earn it a place on the Christmas girl names list.
NOEL, NOELLE, NOELIA (unranked, #202, unranked)
Noel leans masculine and Noelia is seldom heard. Noelle, on the other hand, might be the go-to Christmas girl name of recent years. It’s a flowing middle name choice, as well as an appealing first. Noel is simply the French word for Christmas, made familiar in English thanks to carols like “The First Noel.”
Plum pudding. Sugar Plum fairy. Visions of sugar plums. Strictly speaking, sugar plum candy didn’t always involve plums; it referred to the shape. And plum pudding contains raisins. But it’s an edible name at a moment when we’ve embraced Clementine and Olive and Sage. Plum blends a vintage, festive vibe with all the spirit of modern word names. I like the idea that plum means something especially good, too.
Take Harper, mix in a double scoop of Scarlett, and maybe you’ll find yourself at Silver. Or take Sylvia and update it to a modern, unisex-style word name. Either way, Silver seems like a possibility. I thought it would catch on back in 2008, when the rebooted 90210 introduced us to Silver. (It’s the character’s last name.) It didn’t happen, but this glittery, jingle-bell name captures the spirit of the season perfectly – and subtly, too.
The Latin word for star, a name that works in many different seasons – but undeniably at Christmas-time.
We all know the wise men followed a star. Vesper can refer to many things – a god, a sparrow, a Bond girl. But most often it refers to evening prayers, or the evening star. It’s that last one that puts Vesper on the Christmas girl names list, a reference to the night sky from all those years ago. Sound-wise, it succeeds for many of the same reasons Silver works. It’s a familiar-but-rare possibility with seasonal appeal.
A place name inspired by Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, Virginia has long been associated with Christmas thanks to the most famous newspaper editorial of all-time. Printed in New York’s The Sun in 1897, editor Francis Church responded to the inquiry by Virginia O’Hanlon with his enduring “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” It’s been widely re-published and circulated ever since.
In the iconic holiday film, It’s a Wonderful Life, Zuzu is the youngest of the Bailey children. We assume it’s a pet name for Susan – or at least, it almost always is. But with our love for high-value Scrabble letters soaring, we sometimes see Zuzu given independently, a Z name just a little different than Zuri or Zora. The littlest bit Bailey is no bit player, either; in the movie, she’s the one who tells us ” … every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” That makes the daring Zuzu just right for Christmas girl names.
Do you have any favorite Christmas girl names? What would you add to this list?
First published on November 25, 2019, this post was revised and republished on December 2, 2020; December 2, 2021; September 23, 2022; and December 15, 2022.
Nicole / Nicolette / Nicola, as feminine forms of Nicholas (with the connection to St. Nicholas), seem as if they could be Christmas names for girls.
At 479 I know it just missed being included on this list, but I have always been charmed by the name Holly! Gloriana is so pretty too.
I like the idea of Cadeau and Vesper, but I’m not quite that adventurous.
Lumi (LOO me), Finnish for snow, is pretty.
A few years ago I was in a group with a Noelle and a Noelia. I had never heard the name Noelia before.
Noelia is gorgeous!
Thank you for the lovely Appellation Mountain Christmas gift! My favourite is Amaryllis, second favourite Emmanuelle, though I do have a soft spot for Noelle because I love the carol.