Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mexican Name Trends - Using Catholic Names

The first name trend I discussed was the more common use of middle names in Mexico than in the U.S. So now maybe you're wondering, what makes the middle name so appealling? I've observed that Mexicans have similar first names because of the religious influence of Catholicism in Latin America.  

For example, if you meet a Mexican on the street and guess that they were at least baptized into the Catholic church, there is a 99.9% chance that you will be right.  Since Catholicism is the most popular religion in Mexico, most Mexican parents place what I call a "Catholic name" in the first name spot. This expression refers to  biblical names, especially names of Saints, variations of Mary, and virtue names.  Most Mexicans who are not Catholic practice another branch of Christianity, and these names are equally inspiring for them.  While I myself am a huge fan of biblical names and names with inspiring meanings, I have noticed that some of these names are so commonly used that they lose their appeal to their owners.  However, that does not mean that the practice will die out anytime soon,  especially since those who do go by their inspiring and classic "Catholic names" have fun nicknames and the option of combining their first and middle names. Here are some names that seem to be so popular in Mexico that no one seems to use them alone anymore:

For Girls:

María - Did you know that in some states, there was a law that required all daughters to be given the first name María?  Consequently, this lovely latin version of Mary is the most popular name in Mexico, but it is usually paired with it's middle name or skipped entirely. However, the variations Magdalena, Margarita, Mari, Marielena, Marisol, Marisela, Marlene, etc. seem more accessible to their owners.  These are beautiful options, but I would also love to see more little Marías - that actually go by María!

Socorro - This name means relief or mercy, but the people I know with this name would love to be relieved from it. One of my friends went by Coco, but my husband laughs at her choice of nickname because it's the name of the boogie man in Spanish!  Why parents kept using this name despite protests is beyond me, although luckily I haven't met any baby Socorros. Maybe they finally learned.

Ana - Among those of my generation, this biblical name is almost as popular as María, but it has the option of being paired with a middle name or standing on its own as diminutive Anita. 

Guadalupe - María Guadalupe is the name of the Virgin Mary of Mexico, so this name is hugely popular among all generations. Most namesakes (older and younger) go by Lupita.

Luz - Meaning light, this little yet inspiring name is usually paired with another biblical name. I knew a little girl named Luz Angélica, meaning "angelic light".  She was as adorable as her name.

For Boys:

Juan - John

José - Joseph

Miguel - Michael, Adam's name in Heaven as the archangel, hence Miguel's common use as Miguel Angel. Miguelangel is also the name that latin americans use for the great artist Michaelangelo.

Angel - This Heavenly name can be used in the first or middle spot.

Luis - Related to the word luz, meaning light, this classic is an extremely popular first name which many use together with their middle name.

Jesús - Skip the fluff and name your child after the best person to be named after. Although Jesus may sound weird in English, it's latin version is quite common in Mexico, and often stands on its own as a first name! Namesakes often go by Chucho or Chuy (pronounced "Chewy").  I would prefer to use Chucho for obvious reasons.

Manuel or Emanuel - Emmanuel.  If you like the idea of naming your child after Jesus but not the name or the looks you might get if someone reads their name with an American accent, try one of these two options. The version Emanuel seems to be uncommon enough to stand on its own, but watch out for the nickname Ema if you live in Mexico!  Manuel is a widely used middle name because it sounds well with other biblical first names.

 Are the other common biblical names among your acquaintance that seem to always be paired with something else?  Any in English?  I'd love to hear about them!

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