Happy Easter! Today’s choice is appropriate for the day, but there’s more to him than bunnies.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Peter as Name of the Day.
Mention Peter on Easter Sunday, and it is hard to think of anything other than bunnies. There’s Peter Rabbit, from Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s books. And Thornton Burgess’ Peter Cottontail, he of the 1971 Easter special that so many of today’s parents probably watched every spring.
If you’re the church-going kind, Peter might also ring true. The first Saint Peter was a fisherman turned apostle. Born Simon, Jesus nicknamed him rock – petros. The Roman Catholic church considers him the first leader after Jesus’ crucifixion, a proto-Pope, if you will. Head to the Vatican, and you can wander through the cavernous, football-field-dwarfing St. Peter’s Basilica.
The name has been used in commemoration of the saint ever since, and so there are dozens and dozens of Saint Peters through the years.
There’s no shortage of Peters in other fields of endeavor, either. The following is a brief – inevitably incomplete – list:
- Clark Gable won an Oscar for his portrayal of reporter Peter Warne in 1934’s It Happened One Night. While it doesn’t entirely offset the bunny/saint vibe, the character is an appealing one and lends Peter a certain Hollywood dash;
- Other big screen Peters include Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, The Last Picture Show’s director Peter Bogdanovich and actor Peter Sellers, best known for Dr. Strangelove and The Pink Panther;
- Musical Peters range from Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to American folk singer Peter Yarrow of 1960s trio Peter, Paul & Mary, to modern musical innovator Peter Gabriel. And let’s not forget Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf;
- Dozens of aristocratic Peters can be found throughout history, but Russia’s reforming Peter the Great remains one of history’s most admired monarchs;
- Willa Cather penned a tragic short story titled Peter. Philosopher and writer Peter Abelard is remembered for his scandalous romance with Heloise, immortalized in their letters;
- Management guru Peter Drucker lends the name some business savvy;
- The sixteenth-century Pieter Bruegel the Elder is remembered for painting peasants and landscapes; a few decades later, the Flemish Peter Paul Rubens was busy painting voluptuous women. More recently, Peter Max made his name with psychedelic graphics that captured the spirit of the 1960s;
- Peter Browne was aboard the Mayflower;
- Pete Sampras is one of many athletic bearers of the name;
- Any collection of nursery rhymes will include Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater;
- And, of course, there’s J.M. Barrie’s immortal Peter Pan, first introduced in 1902.
He’s an undeniable classic, and yet he’s out of favor at the moment. Perhaps it is the nursery rhyme (though Jack Sprat isn’t holding back his name) or maybe the rabbits and the boy in green tights put parents off.
But chances are that, like virtually all classic choices for boys, Peter is simply waiting for his comeback.
For the moment, though, he’s a great opportunity for parents hoping for something enduring but not commonplace. In 2007 he ranked #178 – far from obscurity, but a nice alternative to the equally enduring, but heard-everywhere William or James.