Kiama Rane and Gerti Boo


, ,


Amelia Grace and Miranda Kathleen
Dax Hugo and Willa Faith (Zaine, Harley)
Evelyn Zara and Callan Zac
Haven Willow and Coopa Jack (Indy, Hudson)

Alexis Kiahna (Kieran)
Amaya Mariah (James, Seth, Kayden)
Arnita (Chitrita)
Cassiopeia Belle
Edwina Lilian
Emerson Motoko
Enya Yan
Gerti Boo
Giovanna Riley
Kiama Rane
Liliana Ruth
Maleah Rei (Calandra, Elani)
Milly Breea
Penelope Frances
Phillipa Kate (Eliza)
Phoebe Elizabeth (Joshua, Hannah, Naomi, Zachary)
Radiya (Panav)
Samantha Cruz
Skye Beatrice
Tabitha Margaret (Maxwell)
Thea Rose (Eden)
Tiana Ida (Ariana)
Tilda Ollie
Zara Bonnie Joanne

Albie Jai (Myles, Flynn, Logan, Jonty)
Alistair Ronald
Carter Juris
Cavalier (Isabella)
Enoch Christopher
Gus Herbert (Max, Jim)
James David Huw
Jono Martin
Judah James (Bethany, Moriah)
Landon Daniel
Leighton Mark
Mack Fletcher (Taite, Jobe)
Maddison Gary Charlie
Miller Amado (Harlan)
Mitch Dixon Lee (Evie)
Ollie Louis (Joe, Eddie, Henry)
Rohan (Siddharth)
Stefan Angelo
Thomas McHugh
William Perry (Annabelle)
Xander Maxwell (Blake)
Ziek Ryder (Tait, Kurt)
Zixuan Tim

(Picture shows Lucy Vaseo, age 4, walking in the rain at the end of this summer in Kiama, NSW; photo from the Illawarra Mercury)


Thursday Throwback: Waltzing With … Autumn


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


This post was originally published on March 20 2011, and almost entirely rewritten on March 26 2015.

Tomorrow is the Autumn Equinox, ushering in my favourite season of the year. The searing heat of summer finally retreats, leaving us with a long stretch of sunny days with blue skies, white fluffy clouds, and invigorating fresh breezes, coupled with cool nights where we can finally turn off the fan and pull the covers over us for a deep, refreshing sleep at last.

After a blazing heatwave or a devastating cyclone season, the cool air of autumn comes as a relief. Following a dry summer, autumn rain can be a blessing. I love watching the leaves of the deciduous trees turn red and gold, the clear blue skies and mellow warm days followed by crisp doona-snuggling nights. And then later, the thick grey mists, sparkling frosts, and drifts of brown leaves brought down by the cold wind.

Not all of Australia experiences autumn, with the tropics having just a Wet Season and a Dry, and only a small portion of south-eastern Australia having the classic picture postcard four seasons.

Indigenous Australians had their own seasons, which differed from region to region, and which began and ended, not with a particular date on the calendar, but according to observations of the natural world. In the area which is now the Greater Sydney Basin, the Illawarra, and the Southern Highlands, the D’harawal people (who had seven seasons in all) marked the beginning of Marrai’gang around this time of year when the marrai’gang (quoll) began mating and the lilly-pilly fruit started to ripen on the trees.

Other countries may have more spectacular autumns than Australia, with more brilliant colours, but so often there is a melancholy that goes with it, a feeling that the natural world is winding down for the year, and corresponding brooding thoughts of our own mortality.

Here there is no tinge of sadness, and far from the woods bearing “bare ruined choirs”, our native trees almost never lose their leaves. Many native plants begin flowering in the autumn, so that the bush is filled with the bright colours of banksia, grevillea, and correa, as well as the purple lilly-pilly. Some species of bird migrate from the mountains to the coast during autumn, with flocks of thousands making an amazing sight. The loveliness of an Australian autumn is quiet and subtle.

While other seasons have their own beauty, they also seem to have their drawbacks. Winter – too cold! Summer – too hot! Spring – too changeable! Only autumn seems perfectly balanced, with the right amount of warm days and cool days, delightfully dry days and welcome wet days, each marching smoothly and evenly from the blues and golds of March, through the browns and yellows of April, to the greys and greens of May.

Name Information
The word autumn is from the French automne, taken from the Latin autumnus. This is derived from the Etruscan, relating to the passing of the year, ultimately from an ancient root meaning “cold”.

North Americans have two words for the season – autumn and fall. The reason is because the words autumn and fall both came into common use in the 16th and 17th centuries, and as English people began successfully migrating to North America in the early 17th century, they took both words with them. While the word fall for the season aptly fell out of use in Britain, it became the dominant word in the United States.

While autumn is from French, fall is from Old English, and refers to the falling of leaves, as well as the year falling away. It’s a word that makes a lot of linguistic sense, because it’s the exact opposite of spring in meaning (thus North Americans get the handy little mnemonic for the start and end of daylight saving time – spring forward and fall back an hour).

North Americans use autumn and fall interchangeably, and can do so even within the same sentence. However, although personal preference plays a part, in general they seem to use fall in a more practical way, while autumn is literary and formal. So children go back to school in the fall, but fashions come in autumn tones; TV networks bring out their fall schedules, but beloved grandfathers enter their autumn years. In other words, autumn is not just the word for the season, but a poetic or elegant description of the season.

The interesting thing is why there are two words for autumn anyway – it’s not as if winter and summer have other names. The truth is, autumn is a modern concept. In the medieval period, the year was divided into just two seasons, winter and summer. The time of year closest to what we call autumn was known as harvest, and it seems to have corresponded with late summer/early autumn.

By the 16th century, people had begun moving away from a rural way of life, and harvest was no longer an appropriate name for the time of year. I guess people felt awkward clattering up the cobbled streets of London, dodging carriages and chamber pots, telling each other that they would catch up next harvest. Both autumn and fall were tried out as descriptions of the transition from the heat of summer to the cold of winter, and by the 18th century they had both superseded the rustic word harvest. However, by the 19th, fall was no longer used in Britain, and it became seen as American usage only.

(This explains why fall never became part of the Australian vocabulary – as we weren’t settled by the British until the late 18th century, autumn was already the accepted word for the season. It would have been a very inappropriate name on this continent anyway, as there are few native trees here whose leaves fall in the autumn, or ever.)

So even though we might think of the season of autumn as ancient, timeless, and natural, it is in fact not just a modern construct, but a specifically urban one.

Knowing the history of the word autumn, it will not come as any surprise that use of Autumn as a personal name for girls is quite recent, dating back only to the 19th century. Nor will it seem at all strange that its use was in the beginning almost entirely North American, because on that continent autumn was not the standard word for the season, but one imbued with a certain archaic charm.

This trend continues, because in the US, Autumn has been in the Top 1000 since 1969, giving it a “hippie name” vibe. Currently it is in the Top 100 and gently rising, being #69 in 2011 and #65 in 2013. It is also a Top 100 name in some Canadian provinces.

In England/Wales, Autumn was in the 500s until Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips began dating a Canadian named Autumn Kelly in 2002, upon which the name Autumn began climbing in the UK, with a steeper ascent after Autumn and Peter’s wedding in 2008. After peaking at #179 in 2011, just after Autumn Phillips had given birth to her first child Savannah, the name has since levelled off and is now #197.

In Australia, the name Autumn is rarely found in historical records, and it has never charted here. In 2013, 3 baby girls were named Autumn in South Australia, in 2012, 9 baby girls were given the name Autumn in Victoria, and in Tasmania in 2010 there was only one baby called Autumn. The royal connection does not seem to have helped it here, as it has in the UK, and I only see it occasionally in Australian birth notices.

Autumn is a modern nature name for girls that is pretty without being frilly, and may appeal to some Australian parents by dint of being underused here. It celebrates a beautiful time of year, and could suit a child born in autumn, or with autumn-toned colouring. With Autumn, you get that attractive combination of a name that is completely “normal” and familiar, while not being at all common. That alone makes Autumn seem like a pretty awesome choice!

(Photo shows an autumn leaf in the Aurora Valley of Bangalow, New South Wales)

Celebrity Baby News: Asher Keddie and Vincent Fantauzzo




Actress Asher Keddie, and her husband, artist Vincent Fantauzzo, welcomed their first child together on March 1 and have named their son Valentino. Valentino is a brother for Vincent’s son Luca, from a previous relationship.

Asher has been on our television screens since the mid-1980s, first appearing in guest roles on various drama series. After roles in Blue Heelers and Stingers, her big break came in 2004, when she had a lead role in Love My Way, winning as Astra Award for best actress. More roles followed, including a part in the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and taking the starring role in hit drama series Offspring in 2010, for which she won a Logie as Most Popular Actress. As well as playing Dr Nina Proudman on Offspring, she has portrayed both Blanche d’Alpulget in Hawke, and Ita Butrose in Paper Giants, helping her to win further awards, including two Gold Logies. Last year, Asher starred in Party Tricks, and she has also appeared in various theatre productions. Asher’s name has been featured on the blog.

Vincent is originally from the UK, and studied Fine Arts at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, where he is now an Adjunct Professor. Vincent has exhibited in Australia, New York, Los Angeles, India, Vietnam, and Hong Kong, and is a brand ambassador for Audi and laurent perrier. He often collaborates with film makers and works on creative projects with others. He won Peoples Choice Awards at the Archibalds with portraits of actors Heath Ledger and Brandon Walters in 2008 and 2009, and won the Archibald Packing Room Prize and the Doug Moran Portrait Prize for his painting of director Baz Luhrmann in 2011. His portrait of Asher Keddie, titled Love Face, won the People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Archibald Prize, and his portrait of son Luca won the 2014 People’s Choice Award, making him the artist most often awarded the People’s Choice. He has also won a GQ Artist of the Year, and a Metro Art Award. Vincent and Asher began dating in 2012, after meeting through mutual friends, and were married in Fiji last year.

Famous Name: Aurora


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Name in the News
On March 17, a rare aurora australis was seen over New Zealand and Australia, swirling across the late night skies in patterns of red, green, blue, and purple. Aurora australis is also known as the Southern Lights, the southern hemisphere equivalent of the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights.

An aurora event occurs when rapidly moving particles that originated from the sun come in and strike the upper atmosphere, more than 100 kilometres above the earth. The energy from the particles striking molecules in the atmosphere are released as light, and the colours that you see depend on which molecules are struck – green and red come from oxygen, while blue and purple are from nitrogen.

Aurora events sometimes happen when large solar flares and explosions of material come off the sun, which is what occurred this week, setting off a geomagnetic storm. An aurora australis is usually best viewed from Antarctica, but moderate ones can be seen from Tasmania. However, this week’s aurora was so bright that it was visible as far north as Canberra, and Goulburn and Kiama in New South Wales, while even in Brisbane there was a red tinge to the sky.

In Aboriginal mythology, the aurora australis was often seen as fire in the sky, and conjectured to be bushfires in the spirit world, campfires glowing in the land of the dead, or fires lit by evil spirits. It seems to have been generally seen as an ill omen, or a sign of a god’s displeasure. In south-west Queensland, where aurorae are uncommon and less spectacular, it was thought that the spirits were able to transmit messages through an aurora, allowing communication with the ancestors.

Rare, awe-inspiring, and staggeringly beautiful, an aurora is a celestial phenomenon not to be missed. Little wonder that in the past it was seen as something mysterious and otherworldly.

Name Information
Aurora was the Roman goddess of the dawn, and her name literally means “dawn, sunrise, daybreak”. She is the equivalent of the Greek goddess Eos, and the Hindu goddess Ushas. The name comes from an ancient root meaning “shining one”, and is related to the English word east, as well as the Latin aurum, meaning “gold”. It has connotations of springtime, and the new year – all symbols of rebirth and new beginnings.

In Roman mythology, Aurora renews herself each morning and flies across the sky to announce the arrival of the sun, her brother. She often appears in poetry (Virgil describes her as having a “saffron bed”), and her beauty and desirability are such an important part of her image that it is thought she must originally have been a goddess of love, with the different aspects of dawn and eroticism becoming separated into Aurora and Venus.

One of her key myths involves her love affair with a Trojan prince named Tithonus. Wanting to be with Tithonus for all eternity, she asked Jupiter to make him immortal. He granted her request, but because Aurora did not ask for him to remain eternally youthful, he was doomed to be old forever. Aurora saved him from this fate by turning him into a grasshopper.

Although you may read of the goddess Aurora in Tennyson and Shakespeare, see paintings of her, and even hear of her from Bjork, the name is probably best known from the 1959 Disney film Sleeping Beauty, where the comatose princess is called Aurora. In the movie, the king and queen choose the name because their daughter has “filled their lives with sunshine”.

In Charles Perrault’s version of the fairy tale, the Sleeping Beauty was not given a name, but she bears the Prince two children named L’Aurore (“the dawn”) and Le Jour (“the day”). Tchaikovsky’s ballet gives the daughter’s name to the mother, so the Sleeping Beauty is called Princess Aurora, and Disney followed this, as well as the TV series Once Upon a Time. (In the German version of the tale, she is called Briar Rose, which Disney used as Aurora’s code name, and in the earliest Italian one, Talia, who had children named Sun and Moon).

Aurora has been used as a name since the 17th century, and from the beginning was an international choice, showing up in records in England, Italy, and Scandinavia, and by the following century was used in countries all over the world, but especially in Europe.

Currently, Aurora is popular in Norway and most popular in Italy, where it is #3. In the United States, Aurora has been almost constantly on the Top 1000, and is now #145. It has been rising steadily since 1995 – the same year that Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was re-released in cinemas. In England/Wales, Aurora has been on the charts since 2011, and is rising steeply at #257. Amongst English-speaking countries, Aurora is most popular in New Zealand, where it has been Top 100 since 2013 and was #77 last year.

In Australia, Aurora is around the mid-100s, so has a similar popularity to that in the US. As it is rising in other countries, it is most likely rising here too. Around the world, Aurora is often given as a name in scientific contexts, and in Australia it is well known as an energy company. Aurora Point on Macquarie Island is named after the SY Aurora used on Douglas Mawson’s Antarctic expedition, with the yacht itself named after the aurora australis.

Aurora is an internationally recognised name with a poetic meaning and many attractive associations – an alluring dawn goddess, a sunshiney fairy tale princess, an iridiscent light in the heavens. It’s elegant and enchanting, rich and frothy, a name that seems to shimmer with colour, shot through with the rosy pink and gold of daybreak. One drawback is that it not particularly easy to say, which is why Auroras nearly always seem to have a nickname, such as Aura, Auri, Rora, Rory, Ro, or Roo, adding a cute or tomboyish option to a flouncingly feminine name.

(Picture is of Aurora australis seen over the Forth River in Tasmania; photo taken by Julie Head and published in The Advocate).

Celebrity Baby News: Manu Feildel and Clarissa Werasena




Celebrity chef Manu Feildel, and his fiancée Clarissa Werasena, welcomed their first child together on February 5, and have named their daughter Charlee Ariya. Charlee is a sister to Jonti, Manu’s son with his former partner, Veronica “Ronnie” Morshead.

Emnanuel, or “Manu”, was born in France, and learned to cook in London. After moving to Australia to 1999, he worked at a number of restaurants before becoming head chef at Bilson’s, which offered modern French cuisine and earned a three-hat rating. He began appearing on Ready Steady Cook in 2005, was on MasterChef in 2009, and became co-host of My Kitchen Rules in 2010, alongside fellow celebrity dad, Pete Evans. Manu opened his own French bistro in 2009, called Manu at L’Etoile, and after it closed in 2014, opened Le Grand Cirque with MasterChef judge and fellow celebrity dad, George Calombaris. Manu won the 2011 series of Dancing with the Stars, and has also hosted Dinner Date and his own cooking-travel documentary, called My France With Manu.

Clarissa is originally from Malaysia, and is a jewellery store manager. She and Manu met in a nightclub in 2010, and have been engaged since 2013.

Celebrity Baby News: Sporting Babies


, , , ,


Champion jockey Tommy Berry, and his fiancée Sharni Nisbet, welcomed their first child in February, and named their son Kaiden Nathan [pictured]. Kaiden’s middle name is in honour of Tommy’s twin brother Nathan, who died last year from an acute form of epilepsy.

NRL star Johnathan Thurston, and his fiancée Samantha Lynch, welcomed their daughter Charlie Grace on March 16. Charlie joins big sister Frankie, who will be 2 this year; Frankie’s birth was featured on the blog. Johnathan is co-captain of the North Queensland Cowboys, and is the all-time scorer for the State of Origin series.

Rugby league footballer Nathan Peats, and his partner Jade, welcomed their first child on March 4, and named their son Leyton Winiata. Nathan started his career with South Sydney in 2011, and signed with the Parramatta Eels last year. He has also been named for the Indigenous All Stars, and City Origin. He is the son of Geordi Peats, who played for the Canterbury Bulldogs.


Celebrity Baby News: ALP Babies


, ,


Labor MP Amanda Rishworth, and her husband Timothy Walker, recently welcomed their son Percy James [pictured]. Amanda has represented the seat of Kingston in Adelaide since 2007, which she turned around from the most marginal Labor seat in South Australia to the second safest. Last year she was promoted to the Opposition’s front bench when she was appointed Shadow Assistant Minister for Education. Before entering politics, Amanda was a clinical psychologist, and she has been a volunteer surf life saver since high school.

Labor MP Jim Chalmers, and his wife Laura, welcomed their son Leo James on March 13; Leo’s middle name seems to be after his dad. Jim has represented the seat of Rankin in Brisbane since 2013. He was formerly chief of staff to Wayne Swan when he was Treasurer, and was then Executive Director of the Chifley Research Centre, a Labor Party think tank. Laura is a journalist, and a former press secretary for Julia Gillard and Penny Wong.

Havana Lily and Henley Violet


, ,


Miles Geoffrey and Hugh Alexander

Airlie (Harlow, Hayes, Reave)
Asher Belle (Zahra, Macy, Chase)
Billie Rose
Camille Ingrid (Alice, James)
Elizabeth Cate (Victoria)
Grace Helena
Hargunpreet (Sargunpreet)
Harper Penny (Evie)
Harriette Mae
Havana Lily (Poppy, Amelie, Bebop)
Henley Violet
Iris Ruby (Archie, Olive)
Kayla Sage (Larni)
Leni Coral
Lydia Patricia Grace (Emma, Marcus)
Megan Narelle “Meg”
Nell Teresa
Olivia Margaret (Lachlan, Alexander)
Shayla Tigerlily
Sophie Dawn
Summer Mary
Tayla Elizabeth (Jay)
Violet Maria (Charlie, Ella)

Alexander Murray (Jackson)
Andreas Vass (Harry)
Billy Christopher
Caspar James
Chase Jordan
Finn Hudson (Milla, Noah)
Huw William Thomas (Jasper, Jude)
Jack Desmond
James Andrew (Ariella, Sylvie)
Jesse Benjamin Walter (Ethan, Jonty, Elijah, Arabella)
Joey Mitchell (Alice, Isabella)
Jude Maxwell
Kash Renzo
Lincoln Trent
Oliver Frederick (Brooklyn, Willow)
Quinn George
Richard Lewis (Thomas)
Roy Mackay (Sunny)
Rylan Hunter
Thomas Troy John
Toby Daniel
Valentino Vittorio (Alessandro)
Zayne George

Thank you to Brooke from Baby Name Pondering for her contributions from the Herald Sun 

(Photo shows the jetty at Henley Beach in Adelaide)

Celebrity Baby News: Carrie Bickmore and Chris Walker




Television presenter Carrie Bickmore, and her partner Chris Walker, welcomed their first child together on March 18, and have named their daughter Evie. Evie is a sister for Carrie’s son Oliver, or “Ollie”, from her former husband Greg Lange, who died in 2010 after a long battle with cancer.

Carrie got her start in radio, and began working in television in 2006 on variety show Rove Live, in a segment called Carrie @ the News Desk. Since 2009, she has been a co-host on currents events show The Project, and has won a Logie Award for her work. Her husband Chris is a television producer.


Famous Name: Rapunzel


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Name in the News
March 12 marked the start of the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave. One of the participants this year was librarian Nicolette Suttor, from the National Library in Canberra, whose hair hadn’t been cut for a decade, and which hung to her knees.

Nicolette’s cousin Ben died from leukaemia six years ago, and two years ago, her twin sister Camille shaved off her hair to support the Leukaemia Foundation. This year, Nicolette was amongst the thousands of people who signed up to raise money for the World’s Greatest Shave, and she was supported by colleagues, who performed a modern version of the fairy tale Rapunzel ahead of the charity event, with Nicolette taking the lead role.

Since having her 1.4 metre locks of hair removed and her head shorn, real life fairy tale princess Nicolette has raised more than $5500, and her hair will be used to make wigs for leukaemia patients who have lost their hair.

Name Story and Information
The German fairy tale Rapunzel tells of a poor couple who longed for a child. At last the wife became pregnant, and began to develop cravings for a leafy green vegetable, which in Germany is called rapunzel. She told her husband that if she could not eat the delicious looking rapunzel which grew in their neighbour’s walled garden, she would die.

Her husband was very frightened, because their neighbour was an enchantress from the Black Forest, but he was even more frightened of losing his wife. So he climbed the wall into the garden, and stole the rapunzel. The Enchantress caught him, and after he explained he was only taking it for his pregnant wife, she told him he could have as much as he wanted, but on one condition – when the baby was born, he must give it to her.

The man agreed to this, and when the baby was born, it was a girl which they reluctantly handed over to the Enchantress, who took the baby far away, to her own country. She named the girl Rapunzel, after the vegetable which had delivered the child into her hands, and taught the child to call her Gothel (“godmother”).

Rapunzel grew into the loveliest child under the sun, with long hair like spun gold. When Rapunzel turned twelve, the Enchantress locked her in a tower with no stairs or doors, but a tiny window at the top. When the Enchantress wanted to visit Rapunzel, she would call out, Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair! The girl would throw her long, golden, braided hair out the window, so the Enchantress could climb up.

A couple of years later, a prince rode through the forest, and became enraptured by Rapunzel’s sweet singing. Coupled with the sight of her beautiful, wistful face at the tower window, his heart was touched, and each day he rode out to hear her. The day came when he heard the Enchantress give the signal and climb up, and when the coast was clear, he tried his luck by calling out Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!

Rapunzel at first was frightened when a man climbed into her tower. However, the prince was young and handsome, and Rapunzel soon loved him in return, agreeing to become his wife. They decided that the prince would bring Rapunzel silk so she could make herself a ladder – the simpler escape plan of bringing an actual ladder apparently not occurring to them.

While Rapunzel worked on the ladder, she and the prince got to know each better each evening, and it became obvious how well their relationship had progressed when Rapunzel innocently mentioned to her “Gothel” how tight her clothes were growing. No doubt food cravings would have soon developed.

Furious and betrayed, the Enchantress did the “godmother scorned” routine by cutting off Rapunzel’s braid of hair, and taking her into the desert to wander in misery. (There’s no German deserts, so it’s meant in the sense of a dreary, uninhabited wilderness).

The cruel Enchantress then fixed Rapunzel’s braid of hair to an iron spike, and waited in the tower for the prince. When he called out Rapunzel Rapunzel etc etc, the Enchantress let down the braid, and confronted the prince when he climbed into the tower. Heartbroken at the news that Rapunzel was gone, he threw himself from the tower, where he blinded himself on the thorns which grew below.

For some years, the blind prince wandered through the forest living on roots and berries, crying for his lost love. At last he came across Rapunzel, who had in the meantime given birth to their twins, a boy and a girl. Hearing Rapunzel’s beautiful voice, the prince proved love was blind by knowing at once it was his lost love, and hurled himself into her arms.

The two held each other tenderly, and Rapunzel wept. Luckily she had magical tears, because as they fell into the prince’s eyes, his blindness was cured. Hooray! The family hiked back to the prince’s kingdom, where they all lived happily ever after.

The Brothers Grimm adapted Rapunzel from a German fairy tale, which was based on a French one called PersinettePersinette is derived from the French word for “parsley”, as this was the vegetable craved by the mother in this story. In turn, this was based on the 17th century Italian tale Petrosinella by Giambattista Basile, which is the earliest known version of the story (Petrosinella is Italian for “parsley”).

Rapunzel is similar to the medieval Persian tale of Rūdāba, where the beautiful Rūdāba, meaning “shining child”, lets down her raven-black tresses so her lover Zal can climb into her tower. However, there are a number of folk tales where girls get locked in towers by their parents, such as Danae in Greek mythology, the princess rescued by Cian in Irish legend, and even Saint Barbara.

The vegetable which Rapunzel is named after is Valerianella locusta, otherwise known as lamb’s lettuce or corn salad. The plant will grow in even the most barren of environments, making it a favourite with peasants, and foreshadowing Rapunzel’s own surprising ability to survive in a wilderness. Its German name of rapunzel is derived from the Latin, meaning “valerian root”.

Later versions of the story insist that the rapunzel was actually rampion, a purple bell-like wildflower whose leaves are edible. Perhaps it seemed more palatable for a fairytale heroine to be given a floral name.

The name Rapunzel has been in rare use since the 19th century. I have only been able to find Rapunzels born in the United States, and the name showed up in the data there once – in 1959, when 9 girls were given the name Rapunzel. This was the year after Shirley Temple’s Storybook television series featured the story of Rapunzel, with Carol Lynley in the title role, and Agnes Moorehead as the wicked enchantress.

Despite Rapunzel being the lovely princess in Disney’s charming film Tangled, it hasn’t shown up since, and this would be a very bold choice as a name. Besides the vegetable meaning, the fairy tale shows parents in a poor light, with Rapunzel’s biological parents swapping her for salad in a very short-sighted way, and her adoptive mother being insanely possessive and brutally punishing.

And then there’s the famous tagline, which means that someone named Rapunzel would probably have to hear “let down your hair” on a regular basis, even if they had a bob or a pixie cut.

However, Rapunzel would make an awesome middle name, and even as a first name, nicknames such as Zella and Zellie seem feasible for your little fairy tale princess.

(Photo shows Nicolette Suttor dressed as Rapunzel)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 201 other followers