What’s in a Name?


This weekend we worked on finalizing a Christmas gift from my son-in-law.  He had created a metal work art piece of our last name.  Our job was to paint it, create the plaque to mounted it on and attach it the pillar in the front of our property.  I had just snapped a photo of the finished product to send to a friend and got back into my car when the 60s funny, catching tune, “The Name Game” sung by Shirley Ellis came on the radio.  It immediately brought back memories of listening to the Goofy Greats album when I was younger. So, as I continued my drive into school I started to think about the power of our names and the power that they play in our lives.   I know as a family we recently welcomed our first granddaughter and there was great excitement about what her name was going to be and then the final reveal on the day of her birth.  My daughter and her husband chose to use my maiden name, Taylor, as her middle name.  My parents were beyond thrilled!  There is such pride, sentiment and meaning associated with family names.

When our own children were born, I recall that there was less excitement with my Dutch in-laws as we broke with tradition and did not give our children Dutch first names.

As my day continued, my administrator partner shared that today was her son’s name day.  I had never heard about such a celebration and was excited to learn more.  She shared that in the Greek culture, when people are named after a saint, on the day of the saint’s special feast, those individuals who share the same name as the saint, celebrate their name day. So today, Georgie and Grandpa were selecting St. George Day!

Following our conversation about name day, I recalled that a few months ago, when we invited Leroy Hibbert to speak to our junior and intermediate classes about racism, he shared a video about the power of names and more specifically about names of Asian heritage. The participants within the video spoke to the notion that most of them had adopted an English name as others found it too challenging to pronounce their Asian name.  They proudly shared the meaning behind their names and how their parents had intentionally selected them. The descriptions were breath-taking and so powerful.

Today, like every other day, I continue to make a commitment to listen carefully as families share their names and to seek clarification as I do my best to honour the correct pronunciation.

Does your name hold special significance for you?

Come write with me….

One thought on “What’s in a Name?

  1. I remember loving Goofy Greats…”Shaving Cream” was a favourite among my friends. I have never heard of “name day” either and I really liked that video that Leroy shared. I remember having a student name Jahangir (Ja-Hong-Air) when I first started teaching at Lorne Avenue. He was one of the few students from East India at our school. A few weeks into the school year he told me to start calling him “John”. He said it was “easier”. I was stuck, I wanted to respect his wishes, but I didn’t want him to change his beautiful sounding name. I told him that I thought I was saying Jahangir correctly and he agreed I was. I tried to convince him that he should keep his name the way it was…but, he was firm in his demand. I often think back and hope that kid (now a 34 year old man) has decided to be called Jahangir again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *