What’s in a name?

Tomorrow is the big day. The day Mr Silli and I reveal Paxlet’s real name to family (and friends)*. We’re having a small “naming party” with Mr Siili’s family and my dad & stepmom via Skype.

In Finland, it is common to not tell the name of your baby until you have the naming ceremony (ristiäiset / nimiäiset / kastajaiset), which happens 1-2 months after the baby is born. Yes, in Finland, we can and do leave the hospital without giving the baby a name. The baby’s social security number is generated when the baby is born and the parents are informed of it via snail mail soon afterward. It’s the physical social security card you don’t get until the name is officially chosen, subsequently notified to the officials and approved.

Yes, in Finland, names can be rejected by the magistrate (board of people?) and there are laws about how and what you can or cannot name your child.

  • Every kid will have at least a first and last name (sorry, no Princes or Madonnas here).
  • Up to three (3) “first” names can be given, not including the last name. Hyphenated names (Juha-Mati, Niina-Maria) are counted as one name.
  • Inappropriate names or names that can be used in a harmful way and swear words will not be accepted (Ima Pigg, Heli Kopter)
  • Last names cannot be given as first names, but more so mom or dad’s last name can’t be given or formed into a first name.
  • Boy’s names cannot be given to girls and vice versa.
  • Siblings cannot have the same first name, but similar forms of a name are accepted (Kris, Krista, Kristian, etc)

It is possible to work around some of the above mentioned laws based on, for example: religious reasons or if the mom/dad is of foreign origin. Although the names still have to be accepted. It is also possible to petition denied name choices if you don’t agree with the decision. As Mr Siili states, the above items are more guidelines in which names are checked against just to make sure kids are not being given something that can/will haunt them growing up.

*As I said earlier, I don’t feel comfortable revealing our boy’s name here on my blog. I will continue to refer to him as Paxlet, but if someone would like to learn his name, I’d be willing to share it with you privately.
Shoot me an email at jsththr at gmail dot com.

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6 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. Intriguing! Especially about the boy/girl thing, I know quite a few girls with "boy" names. Not many the other way around though. George Foreman would have a problem as well seeing as he named all his kids George. Do you tell visitors who came to see you and the baby before the naming ceremony?

  2. Wow talk about govt involvement in naming your kid! That seems kind of crazy. I can't imagine what Hollywood celebrities would do if they lived in Finland- I guess they wouldn't be able to name their kids the crazy names that they do!

  3. Wow, that's crazy! I had no idea other countries had guidelines for what you can and cannot name your child. Hmm…maybe the US should look into that (parents of Pilot Inspektor, Cash Money, etc., I'm looking at you).

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