It’s that time of year! The first night of Hanukkah is the day before Christmas this year, which is a great opportunity to discuss pan-winter holiday names. For this list, I’ve included names from Jewish, Christian, Pagan, and secular holidays.
Nia- There are 7 principles of Kwanzaa, one for each day. Nia, meaning “purpose,” is the sixth. Sound-alike name Mia is solidly in the top 10, but Nia is only in the 400s. The name fits into the trend of ultra-short girl names like Zoe, Ava, and Lia.
Faith- The final day of Kwanzaa is called Imani, meaning “faith.” I chose to put faith on the list because it works for a number of holidays, but Imani is a good choice for parents looking for something more Kwanzaa-specific.
Lior- A unisex Hebrew name meaning “light,” Lior could be a great nod to Hanukkah that simultaneously updates Liam or Leah.
Norah- A sly but somehow obvious way to honor Hanukkah’s most famous symbol: the menorah. This spelling ranks #159 while Nora, no H, ranks #41. Both spellings are rising.
Noel- The French word for Christmas is widely used for both boys and girls, though it’s commonly spelled Noelle for girls. Pronunciation can vary as well; Noel (rhymes with Cole) is often used for boys and the two-syllable no-ELLE is favored for girls.
Sterling- It’s a dictionary word meaning “excellent,” but Sterling originates from the English word “star.” The Christmas story says the wise men followed an exceptionally bright star to the newborn Jesus, so Sterling could honor that cosmic aspect of the tale.
Pine- Evergreen trees like the pine have been used for centuries to symbolize eternal life, especially during winter. Saturnalia, the Roman holiday honoring the god Saturn, was among the earliest documented festivals to celebrate with evergreen wreaths and the origin for the modern Christmas tree. Pine isn’t popular for boys, but with the rise of nature and tree names like Oak and Willow, I wouldn’t be surprised if it catches on.
Odin- The Germanic god Odin is believed to be a predecessor of Santa. At Yule (winter solstice) Odin would leave treats for children in their shoes. The popular 2-syllable -n ending structure of Odin, combined with the trendy long O sound, could make this an intriguing possibility for boys.
Happy holidays and have a great 2017!