I think every name writer thinks about putting together a piece on Christmas names each year. Trouble is, there are only so many names! I made my own list of Christmas names a couple of years ago (but this one is better), and I wrote about Holy Family names and O Antiphon names last year, so this year I thought I’d come up with a list of Advent names. And not just Advent names, but *new* names, not the same names everybody has written about forever and ever for babies born this time of year.
Easier said than done!
So many of the names that could qualify as Advent names are also legitimately Christmas names—no Advent list would be complete without them, like Mary, Joseph, Emmanuel (is O Come O Come Emmanuel not one of the most Adventy of songs?), Gabriel, John and Baptist, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and Belén (the Spanish for Bethlehem) or even Bethlehem itself. Also, even though I didn’t package it that way, my O Antiphons list is explicitly Adventy, since it refers to titles of the coming Messiah as noted by Isaiah in the context of the O Antiphons — it’s all prophecy and anticipation about Christmas.
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My readers and I were able to come up with a few new ideas though—here are some Advent names that you’ll likely not find on any list of Christmas names:
Andrew: Despite the fact (as one of my readers pointed out) it makes sense to count back four Sundays from Christmas to determine the first Sunday of Advent, all the sources say it’s set on the first Sunday near the feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30). Did you already know that? I didn’t! How cool!
Anticipation names: Hope itself often makes it onto lists of Christmas names, but there are loads of others that can refer to the hope, waiting, expectation, and patience of Advent: Esperanza (g, “hope”), Itxaro (g, “hope”), Nadya/Nadia (g, “hope”), Nadine (g, “hope”), Paraskeve (g, “preparation”), Patience (g, “patience”), and Tikva (g, “hope”).
Joy names: Joy also often makes lists of Christmas names, and between the “Rejoice” of Gaudete Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent, when we light the third [pink/rose] candle) and the fact that the third candle is called the Candle of Joy, a Joy name is quite appropriate for Advent. There are so many names connected to it that would make a nice (though subtle) nod to Advent, like Fayne (b, “glad”), Hilary (g, “cheerful”), Maeve (g, “cause of great joy”), and Simcha (g/b, “happiness, joy”). Another unusual option—and perhaps too much of a stretch for some—is Catherine, as St. Catherine of Siena was known to be so joyful as a child that she was nicknamed Euphrosyne, which is Greek for “joy.” You could certainly use Euphrosyne, but Catherine’s a bit easier!
Isaiah: This Old Testament prophet foretold the coming of the Messiah and shared all those amazing titles of the Messiah as remembered in the O Antiphons.
Lydia: Lydia in the New Testament was a seller of purple cloth — this could be a subtle connection to the three purple candles of the Advent wreath.
Rorate Caeli/Coeli: This is probably my craziest+coolest idea! As explained by the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent:
“(Vulgate, text), the opening words of Isaiah 45:8. The text is used frequently both at Mass and in the Divine Office during Advent, as it gives exquisite poetical expression to the longings of Patriarchs and Prophets, and symbolically of the Church, for the coming of the Messias. Throughout Advent it occurs daily as the versicle and response at Vespers. For this purpose the verse is divided into the versicle, “Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum” (Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just), and the response: “Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem” (Let the earth be opened and send forth a Saviour”). The text is also used: (a) as the Introit for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, for Wednesday in Ember Week, for the feastof the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin, and for votive Masses of the Blessed Virgin during Advent; (b) as a versicle in the first responsory of Tuesday in the first week of Advent; (c) as the first antiphon at Lauds for the Tuesday preceding Christmas and the second antiphon at Matins of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin; (d) in the second responsory for Friday of the third week of Advent and in the fifth responsory in Matins of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin.”
The nickname Rory could totally make Rorate as a first name doable! What do you think? Crazy? Cool? Both?
Rose: Of course Rose always refers to Our Lady, but it can also refer to the pink candle on the Advent wreath, lit on the third Sunday of Advent (also known as Gaudete Sunday; Gaudete=Rejoice).
Violet: Did you know that the official color of Advent is violet? We might call them purple candles, but violet is more appropriate—and perfect for an Advent baby!
What do you think of these Advent names? Would you consider them for an Advent baby, or are they too un-obvious for your taste? I’d love to know what unexpected/new names you can add to the list!
Copyright 2016 Katherine Morna Towne
About the Author
Kate is a writer, wife to a really good man, and mama to their seven boys ages 1 to 15. She shares her thoughts on Catholic baby naming at Sancta Nomina, and her first book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018) can be found at ShopMercy.org and Amazon.