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The Changing Baby Names of Christmas: Noel, Meet Messiah

What's a proper Biblical name for your Christmas baby?

Bible names are a core part of English naming tradition. John and Mary alone once accounted for a quarter of all babies born in England. Yet there's one key name that English baby naming tradition never touched: Jesus.

The name Jesus comes from a form of the Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua), meaning "God is salvation." In Spanish, Jesús is a common name for boys, and a pious one. In English, though, naming a boy Jesus has long been considered immodest, bordering on sacrilegious. Even Emmanuel, which is a classic in other languages (Immanuel, Manuel, Manoel), has traditionally been a bit much for English speakers. So at Christmas time, English-speaking parents looking for a faithful name of the season have turned to the more modest likes of Noël and Nicholas.

Until now. Modesty is no longer the byword in baby naming. With names like Maximus and Diamond staples on the popular names charts, it should be no surprise that Emmanuel is a bona fide hit today: #183 in America and climbing. In fact, Emmanuel now sounds positively humble next to the new savior name climbing the ranks. Messiah has been a top-1000 American name for the past five years, more popular than standards like Alfred, Conrad and Neil.

So this Christmas, expect plenty of American parents to celebrate the baby Messiah in more ways than one.


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December 8, 2009 11:07 AM
By Zoerhenne (not verified)

I don't know that if I had had a boy around Christmas that I would have named him a themey name. The name Nicholas is not a great association for me personally plus its already being used by a cousin. I don't care for the more religious Messiah or Jesus type things. I like the girl choices better: Natalie, Noelle, Wynter, Star, Dove, Faith, Hope, Grace, etc. Maybe some other boys names could be Christopher/Christian, Colden, Skylar, Bridger, River. Are there others I'm not thinking of?

December 27, 2009 2:30 AM
By K2 (not verified)

What about Beth for Bethlahem(not spelled right)

January 13, 2010 11:49 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Well, I was born ON Christmas day and my parents named me Crystal. My co-worker born soon after and named, Christopher...

January 17, 2010 5:17 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Name our daughter Holly. Born in the South in the middle of July. You wouldn't believe the comments we got-

1. Oh, you really wanted a Christmas baby.

2. Can't you think of a summer plant/flower instead of a Christmas one?

3. Holly. Isn't that a name you'd use only if she were born in December?

How very odd-none of that even crossed our minds for a second!

January 18, 2010 3:22 PM
By Caitlyn (not verified)

My friend teaches kindergarten - one of her kids is named Adonai (pronounced Adonay) which is the traditional way Jewish people address God (well, one of them). It's a bit odd, since the child in question is a Christian gentile (african-american, if that's relevant) attending a messianic jewish dayschool.....

January 28, 2010 9:18 PM
By Camille (not verified)

Surely you cannot be serious!
The nerve of them...when I think of Holly I do not think of Christmas or winter at all, I think of the plant. And to say such a thing to your face?

February 17, 2010 5:16 PM
By Kristin (not verified)

How about John ( For the John the Baptist) or David? Paul? Moses? David(my little Christmas present of a nephew!) For girls maybe Mary, Margeret, or even Christian. Or maybe Demi, meaning small.

May 19, 2010 2:45 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'm not sure what I'd do if I met a little Messiah. I'd be a bit uncomfortable, calling out that name to someone who isn't The Messiah. Hopefully, he'd have a nickname I can use.

September 29, 2011 11:45 PM
By SEO Marketing (not verified)

Nice names Kristin. But I think such names are bit common. we can go for something different I guise

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