She’s a sophisticated epithet for a moon goddess, but ever since the 1970s, this name is more likely to conjure up The Brady Bunch.
Thanks to Toni for suggesting Cynthia as Name of the Day.
Sing it with me now: All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls.
If you’re reading this post, odds are you either remember television mega-hit The Brady Bunch from the original run, or watched it in repeats over your summer vacation. The show is such a part of pop culture that even if you’ve never owned a TV, you might still recognize phrases like “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.”
Susan Olsen played Cynthia Brady, the youngest of the six step-sibs. Cindy did eventually grow up – after all, the show ran for five seasons, spawned made-for-TV movie sequels and even a semi-parody big screen release. But Cindy remains etched in the public memory as a sweet little girl.
And why not? The fictional Cindy Brady would’ve been born in an era when the name was a Top Ten sensation. She spent nearly a decade at the top of the charts, between 1956 and 1965. Cindy, Cindi, Cyndi and Cinda charted, too.
Today, most of the diminutives are out of favor. And while Cynthia is falling quickly, she still ranked a respectable #276 in 2007.
That’s fitting, because if you look beyond the Baby Boomers, Cynthia has a sophisticated past.
She’s the Latinized form of the Greek place name Kynthia – from Kýnthos. In Greek myth, a heavily pregnant Leto took refuge on Mount Kýnthos in Delos. (Once again, Zeus’ philandering ways had attracted the ire of Hera.) Leto gave birth to twins Apollo and Artemis there, and so Kýnthos became an epithet of Artemis. She’s sometimes referred to as Cynthia.
When viewed in this light, Cynthia becomes a goddess name – a decidedly feminine choice with the athleticism of the huntress and mystery of other moon goddess monikers, like Chandra.
An early bearer of the name wasn’t a Cynthia at all, but Sanchia – the third of four daughters born to Raymond Berenger IV, Count of Provence, and his savvy wife Beatrice. Back in the thirteenth century, the pair married all four of their daughters to monarchs – France, England, Germany and Sicily. Sanchia married Richard of Cornwall, and was crowed Queen of the Romans and Germany. Sanchia didn’t translate, so she was called Cynthia instead.
The name didn’t pick up steam until the 19th century. Famous Cynthias of recent years include:
- Actress Cynthia Nixon, best known for her role in Sex and the City;
- Dynamic chaunteuse Cyndi Lauper, known for her anthem “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and for her recent reinvention as a torch singer;
- Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley;
- The American folk song “Cindy” has been performed by artists like Elvis Presley snd Nick Cave;
- Pop song “Cindy, Oh Cindy” charted back in 1956, probably helping to propel the name to the Top Ten;
- Animated Rugrat Angelica carries a Cynthia doll;
- Then there’s Cindy Lou Who from Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas;
- Senator John McCain’s wife was born Cindy Lou, too;
- Fairytale princess Cinderella is sometimes called Cindy, especially in retellings of the tale;
- Supermodel Cindy Crawford lends some high fashion glitz to the name;
- There’s a butterfly called Cynthia;
- England’s answer to Barbie was the Sindy doll.
Overall, Cynthia might just hit that perfect note for some parents. As Toni puts it, she’s “common but not too popular.” Especially if you’re willing to use the full name – or possibly use Thia or Tia as a nickname – Cynthia could sound quite current.