What’s in a Name?

Anna's Christmas stocking (closeup)

Photo: Julia Ozab

In the case of our daughter, Anna, quite a bit.

We named Anna after her great grandmother. It was a name that Julia had always liked: it was her confirmation name and was always in the back of her mind as a name to use when she had a daughter of her own.

Julia has big family and every time a new niece was born she feared the name Anna would be claimed, but it wasn’t. And so after we were married and got around to the subject of baby names, she had a girl name already picked out: Anna Marie.

Not only was her grandmother named Anna Marie, her mom is Kathleen Marie, and she is Julia Marie. When our Anna first found out she shared a middle name with her mom and grandma she figured that everyone in the family had the middle name Marie:

“So Anna,” Julia asked. “What’s your dad’s name?”

“David Marie?”

“No,” I said laughing. “My middle name is Grandpa Lloyd’s first name.”

“David Grandpa?” She laughed too. She knew I meant “Lloyd,” but she’s always had a silly sense of humor.

The name Anna Marie had associations for me too. Both Ann and Mary are common names in my family: my mom’s mother was named Mary, as was her oldest sister, and she also had a sister and a niece named Ann. She liked the names so much that she named our cat Maryann in their honor.

And there’s the Virgin Mary and her mother St. Anne (Hannah in Hebrew, and Anna in both Greek and Latin). Both saints figure significantly in Christian salvation story (particularly for Catholics) and having them paired as a first and middle name inspired a baptismal gift for my daughter: the icon of Saint Anna and the Theotokos (the Mother of God) that now hangs in her bedroom, along with an icon of the Guardian Angel and a crucifix.

The same crucifix that was placed on Great Grandma Anna’s casket at her funeral mass, and that we’ve now passed on to her great granddaughter.

Along with her name: Anna Marie.

Today, the Western Church celebrates the conception of Mary in the womb of St. Anne. Catholics call it the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, while Orthodox Christians and Eastern Catholics call it The Conception of the Theotokos (or The Maternity of Holy Anna), and celebrate it one day later. The feast inspired both the above post and the musical selection for today:

December 8

 Advent calendar graphics by Oh My Gluestick. They are intended for personal use only and may not be used commercially.

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