English: Christmas postcard picture with Santa...

I’m never sure how to handle the days just before Christmas.  Do I write about elf names, like Jingle and Mistletoe?  Do I ignore it entirely?  I mean – some of you aren’t celebrating, some of you are here to get a break from various holiday-related obligations, and others are catching up after the big event.

Doubling the uncertainty is that I’m writing from my in-laws’ new home in Naples, Florida.  We went to the beach yesterday – yes, the beach, on December 22nd!  There were pelicans.  And people wearing Santa hats with their swimsuits.

But back to my holiday dilemma.  Let’s say this: if you’re celebrating the season in any fashion, I hope it is happy and filled with love and light.  And if you’re just here for the name news, read on – for name-spotting is a year-round sport.

  • Best name-spotting the whole trip?  In an airport Starbucks, sisters named Savannah and Sicily.  Okay, she might have been Cecily – I only heard their names spoken – but given the place-name of the older sister’s name, I’m guessing the younger’s name was also geographic.
  • I’m fascinated by the act of reclaiming heritage through names.  (Think of statements like “My grandfather was Russian, so we’re naming our daughter Aleksandra.”) Nancy’s post on the revival of Irish names in Ireland is great – though I’ve yet to listen to the documentary she cites.
  • Names from Alaska, thanks to musician Jewel Kilcher and her family’s new reality series, via Angela at Upswing Baby Names – my favorites is definitely Stellavera.
  • I love a quirky middle, and this list is rich with inspiration.  Theodora Schenley Swan is my favorite girls’ combination of the moment, nn Thora, closely tied with Rosemary Linden Larknn Romy.
  • More wearable than Swan: Odette, the main character from Swan Lake, recently profiled by Baby Name Pondering.
  • Anna’s story about Chaxiraxi is so interesting, and I think Candelaria is a great, underused Marian name.  I love the possible descriptions on her poll, too: “too pagan for Christians and too Catholic for pagans” or “fascinating and mysterious” or “powerful.”  I’d go with “all of the above.”
  • Another name that interests me is Valo.  Bree mentioned the Finnish appellation here.  She doesn’t quite say it, but I think her post implies that Valo is unisex – and I think she’s right.  I can see a boy or girl Valo fitting in on the playground.
  • While we’re at The Beauty of Names, I like Bree’s question about La Belle et La Bete.  What would you name Beauty?  Rosemonde is a great suggestion.  I’m also tempted by names from this list – Ghislaine or Everild, maybe.
  • My obsession of the week is longer names ending with -r, prompted by spotting Demeter here at the same time I was working on a post for next month on Jupiter.
  • Aela adds her favorites to Nameberry’s Top Boy Names of the year.  Go, Stanley!
  • Baby Name Wizard’s Name of the Year is Francis.  Quite right, I think.
  • Though isn’t Kathalea/Cataleya fascinating?

That’s all for this week!  Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas and happy holiday season.

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. “Beauty and the Beast” is an unusual fairy tale because it is about middle class people from the merchant class – Belle is not the usual princess or peasant girl.

    I think if her name was not Belle, it would be something perfectly average for that period, such as Jeanne or Louise or Marie. She is one of the first “ordinary girl” heroines, and I think it would be a mistake to take that away from her.

  2. Could Valo be pronounced like Halo? That was how I said it in my head when I first read it here, and I instantly loved it. Bree says “Vah-lo,” but that seems less intuitive to me.

  3. My dad knows I like to talk names so he humors me now and then and last night challenged me to think of all the D names out there (we just did girls because he tired before I did). When I said Demeter he doubted its status as a name. It’s not one you ever actually see someone use but I love it. I just love the strong sound of it, though that’s the same thing that would make me nervous about using it.

  4. Marginamia’s Kristen Gregg has a daughter named Valo June, but I think she is mostly called June now.

    Your name combinations are great! I’m a huge fan of the nickname Romy, but my husband doesn’t like Rosemarie or Rosemary, and I’m not sure how I feel about Romilly.

  5. Thanks for all your hard work. I love the Sunday Summaries so I can catch up on all the name articles I’ve missed.

    Merry Christmas!