For The Love of Baby Naming

Should you name your baby after a holiday?


How many babies born today will be named Valentina or Valentino? Probably the same as the number named Holly, Kris or Noelle born at Christmas and the Summers born on the 4th of July (along with the Americas, Julies and Julios). One year, I had parents who named their baby Sparkler (yes, on July 4th), but they reassured me that they were going to call her Sparkle for short. With so many name choices available, do you think it’s a good idea to name your baby after an event on the calendar?

When it comes right down to it, children born on or near a holiday are at risk for getting shortchanged in lots of ways. My youngest was born in mid-February and hasn’t had a birthday yet in which her party decorations weren’t bedazzled with hearts. It’s not just because I’m a lazy mom who hates going to the party store (though I kind of am), it’s also because she’s been programmed since birth to think all those heart napkins in the grocery store down the block are for her. She’s old enough now to understand that the Valentine’s Day industry wasn’t actually created in her honor, but I’m lucky she doesn’t mind. In fact, she loves the fact that her birthday is linked with visual displays of mushy, romantic love. We did not, however, name her Cupid.

Another daughter was born near Christmas. She was due on Thanksgiving, and I swear the reason she was two weeks overdue was because she heard people calling her a “little turkey” and she wasn’t having anything to do with that. Instead, she chose a very reasonable date that was well beyond that turkey-teasing holiday, but still far enough before Christmas that her birthday wouldn’t be overlooked or under-celebrated by the crush of holiday events. We made a family commitment in fact that we would never buy our Christmas tree or start decorating our house until after she’s had her day. Most years I take that a little too far by not starting my Christmas shopping until after her birthday, too, but as long as I stay far enough away from the “I-finished-my-shopping-in-July” parents, I do OK.

Naming your baby is such an honor, responsibility and challenge that I totally understand why some parents take shortcuts like naming their child after a relative or, as in Sparkler’s case, after holiday paraphernalia. It’s harder for me to understand why some parents name their children after people or things they know are offensive or will cause harm throughout their lives. Sure, some parents simply don’t get it that naming their son Rockhudson (one name, I swear) might be a little weird. Those particular parents had emigrated from a non-English-speaking country, and they thought the name was a good choice – a big manly American actor. Of course, they also named another son Jasmine, so who knows what kind of advice they were getting.

Should you tell people the name you’ve chosen before your baby is born? I’m on the fence on that. On the one hand, telling might be just the clue you need to know that a boy named Jasmine is likely to get bullied on the playground. On the other hand, if you tell someone the beloved name you’ve chosen and held close to your heart since childhood and they tell you they had a bad dog that smelled like barf with that name, well then, they’ve spoiled everything.

My best advice is to choose a name that both you and your partner love and that you wouldn’t mind being called yourself. Imagine what it will sound like called out the back door at dusk, and whispered in the middle of the night. Try it out using your angry voice because I guarantee you’ll shout that name more than once. Then, plug it into a resume and imagine it on a diploma or the cover of a book. If it still holds up after all of that, well then, you’ve got yourself a name. Oh, and one last piece of advice – be careful with those initials, will ya?

Looking for popular names, unique names, or just some tips on choosing the right name? We rounded up our favorite baby names for boys and girls >>

Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and children. And co-author of, The Complete Illustrated Birthing Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating the Best Birthing Plan for a Safe, Less Painful, and Successful Delivery for You and Your Baby. Got a question for Jeanne? Email it to and it may be answered in a future blog post.

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