Can it be? The hottest seasonal name is also the coldest.
Our Baby Name of the Day is Winter.
Winter: Word and Season
The coldest season of the year takes its name from Old English. It may mean the wet season, or it may come from a word meaning white.
The start and end dates of the season vary. The mid-December solstice is almost always part of the calculation. In my part of the world, winter begins around December 21st and ends the following March 21st, give or take a day.
That’s reversed in the southern hemisphere. And the coldest parts of the world, like Scandinavia, have snow on the ground by October. In centuries past, religious feasts have been used to define the seasons, too.
Winter: In Myth
Stories around the seasons are plentiful. The Greeks believed that Persephone spent half the year in the underworld as the reluctant bride of Hades, and half the year with her mother, the earth goddess Demeter. When Persephone returned to the earth, it was spring. Her descent to be with her husband ushered in the cold.
Similar stories can be found in other cultures, too.
Winter: By the Numbers
As a given name, it’s found in very small numbers as far back as the 1950s, and while it’s been used for both genders, it leans feminine from the very start.
It’s tough to say what sparked the name’s use, but here are a few guesses:
- Summer also caught on around the same time, as did Spring and Autumn. It may simply be that all of the season names rose together. Spring was actually the most popular early days, probably thanks to Oscar-winning actress Spring Byington.
- The name increased in use in 1976, and again in 1977 and 1978. Those dates are also the years of especially harsh winters and blizzards. Could it be a name given in honor of the weather?
- It’s also familiar as a surname, sometimes with an ‘s’ at the end. The beautiful and devious Milady de Winter from The Three Musketeers is one famous example. Faye Dunaway played the character in two big screen adaptations in the 1970s – another possible reason for the name’s increased use.
Winter: Harlow Winter Kate
Girls’ names ending with ‘r’ are having a moment, with Harper and Piper on the rise. Winter fits this pattern perfectly, so it’s no surprise to be hearing it more often.
But the name really started to catch on in early 2008, when Nicole Richie and Joel Madden welcomed daughter Harlow Winter Kate.
The influence of the celebrity baby name is clear:
- In 2007, 28 newborn girls were named Harlow. In 2008 there were 133. By 2009, that number was 301. Last year, 605 newborn girls were given the name.
- In 2007, there 178 baby girls called Winter. By 2008, that number was 238, and 261 in 2009. As of 2014, there were 553 girls given the name.
Winter: Beyond Hollywood
Winter succeeds as a name for many reasons. It’s a tailored nature name that could be given to a son or a daughter. Sassy nickname Winnie makes Winter more versatile than nickname-proof Summer, Autumn, and Spring.
Popular YA series Cinder features a Snow White-like character by the name, too.
And while there are downsides to the coldest season of the year, there are plenty of reasons to love Winter, too – holidays and hot drinks and sweaters and all sorts of sports.
Overall, Winter is one of those thoroughly modern word names that we’re likely to hear more of in the future.
What do you think of Winter as a given name? Do you like it better for a girl or a boy?