By the light of the Moon – A Halloween-ish post

October 31, 2011 § 8 Comments

Lunar libration with phase2

First things first: An update on baby Giulia Sarkozy, which has nothing to do with Halloween even though you can spell Skary using letters from the presidential last name (it’s trick or treat day – consider that awful pun my ‘trick.’) According to the French tabs, she was named for Carla Bruni Sarkozy’s favourite Aunt Gigi – her mother’s oldest sister, who was also one of the first visitors after baby Giulia was born. Gigi’s full name is Giulia.

And hey, Happy Halloween!

Halloween-related names and posts are heavily populating the blogosphere today, and here I am, someone who likes to avoid Halloween at any cost. I’ve never been big on dressing up – I like to create things with my mind, not make-up. I remember freezing, freezing cold nights in Canada trick or treating in basically a huge winter coat over my costume. Every year. So I never really wrapped my head around the notion that girls are supposed to try to show up for every Halloween with the sexiest costume. Too much pressure, too much drinking – and now, eating too much candy gives me a headache. (I’m a grown up now, and sometimes it is SO annoying!)

I also don’t believe that it’s necessary or required to come up with a Halloween name (or Christmas, or Easter a la Bryan Adams’ Mirabella Bunny) if you have a child born on Halloween, if for no other reason than it’s in some way expected. No one would notice if you named your Halloween baby Daniel, but people would get it – and probably be pleased – if his name was Jack.

Nameberry recently released a list of subtle Halloween choices from Bram (like Stoker’s Dracula) to Trixie. Ironically, before I began to scroll, the first “Halloween-themed” name that popped into my head was Luna, the Latin word for “moon” and the name of the moon goddess in Roman mythology, and it wasn’t there. While the name is also Hebrew for “dweller,” it’s the moon that comes to mind for most people when they hear this trendy name for girls – and for me, when I think of Halloween, I think of the moon, and night, too.

Celebs have taken to Luna in droves: Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo and husband Chris Ivery welcomed daughter Stella Luna in 2009, the same year actress Constance Marie welcomed daughter Luna Marie with fiance Kent Katich. In 2008, actress Joely Fisher and husband Chris Duddy adopted a daughter named Olivia Luna and actress Kari Wuhrer gave birth to daughter Echo Luna, British footballer Frank Lampard welcomed daughter Luna Coco Patricia in 2005, celebrity hairstylist John Frieda welcomed Leyla Luna in ’05, Colombian singer Juanes’ first daughter, named Luna, was born in 2003, former ER star Laura Innes adopted daughter Mia Luna in 2001, French tennis star Henri Leconte had daughter Sara Luna in 1996, and Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan welcomed twins with his wife in 1994. His daughter was named Gabrielle Luna, and his son named Colton Moon. Actress Amber Tamblyn, daughter of actor Russ, has a sister named Luna.

There’s been plenty of use the last few years in the Netherlands, evidenced by Dutch celebs like singer Sharon den Adel, whose daughter Eva Luna is five, and reality TV star Stephanie Plankaert’s daughter Iluna, who’s six. Iluna’s meaning is unknown, with references hard to find. Samsu-Iluna was King of Babylon from 1749-1712 BCE, the son of Hammurabi, but it might be easier to believe that Plankaert was more inspired by the name’s similarity to Luna – as with US singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins, whose daughter Hana Aluna (Hawaiian for “descent,” or “approach,” as in battle in the African Mwera language) was born in 1997.

It’s a Spanish surname, from Deluna, which first appeared in the Aragon region of Spain, an important Christian kingdom in the medieval era. It’s a local surname – the original Luna, Deluna, or de la Luna would have come from a town called Luna – though such a town or place name is no longer in existence. Mexican actor Diego Luna and Spanish footballer Paco Luna (known simply as Luna) further contribute to the name’s international feel. In Australia, Luna Park is an amusement park built on the Sydney Harbour. The face over the entrance has crazy eyes, and makes for a great shot while boating in the harbour – but we clearly went in the offseason, because it was a little bit abandoned when we wandered around! The parks got their name from the rocket on the “A Trip to the Moon” ride at the Pan-Ameircan Exposition in Buffalo in 1901 – the first Luna Park opened in Seattle in 1907. Eighty-one different Luna Parks have been opened (and many subsequently closed) over the last 100 years – as a result of these parks, the term lunapark translates to “amusement park” in Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, and Turkish.

Luna has found use even in Asia, as a character name in Japanese cartoon and film, and it’s the stage name of a popular K-Pop teen star (born Park Sunyoung). And we’ve got our own teen pop star whose name means “moon” in the west – Selena Gomez‘ first name is a variation on Selene, which is the Latin word for moon. Selena, especially, has been on the rise in the US ever since the murder of much-loved Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla in 1995 (and was the inspiration of Gomez’ mother when she picked her daughter’s name). That year, Selena jumped into the US Top 100 from over 200 places back the year before, based entirely on the outrage and sadness surrounding her death. The name petered off, back to the Top 400, by 2007 – now Gomez’ popularity is pushing it up again (more slowly this time). In Greek mythology, Selena was the moon goddess, sister to Helios – the sun. Variant spelling Selina, possibly an anglicized form, has also found it’s place inside the US Top 1000.

It’s not the first time we’ve been besotted with names meaning “moon.” Back in the 1960s, when the influential Beatles helped introduced eastern culture to the masses, the unisex Hindu name Chandra, Sanskrit for “moon,” (Hindu goddess Devi, goddess of the moon and of fertility, is also known as Chandra) exploded into the US Top 1000 for girls, peaking in the Top 400 in 1970 before rapidly falling through the ’80s and out of the Top 1000 in 1991. The name’s US popularity gave it the dubious distinction that in the US, the name has almost exclusively become mispronounced as chan-dra, even though the name is meant to be pronounced shan-dra. That includes actress Chandra Wilson – beloved Dr. Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy, and Chandra Levy, the notable murder victim who in death in the mid-’90s was revealed as the mistress of a high-ranking Washington politician.

There have been a number of parents brave enough to use Io, a polarizing vowels-only, two letter name – Greek for “the moon.” But boy, will it get some people’s backs up. Much as I’d appreciate the simplified task of teaching my daughter to spell her own name with a selection like this, I just don’t like the way it sounds. To me, I practically hear “hi-oh!”

There’s a long list of names meaning “moon” over at 2000 Names, among them Lucine, which is Armenian for “moon” and could sprout alongside popular Lucy. Turkish Ayla (“moonlight”) and Aylin (“moon halo”) have also been finding their place. Even day of the week name Monday is a moon name – the word derives from the Old English mona (moon) + daeg (day). Jaci is “moon” in the Native American Tupi language, while Kamaria is Swahili for “like the moonlight.”

In 2009, Millionaire Matchmaker reality TV star Destin Pfaff and wife wife, Rachel, welcomed a son and caused a stir with his name – Sin Halo Jude. Rachel explained, “My parents hate the name Sin Halo. But it’s the yin and the yang — everybody has a little good and bad in them.” Inadvertently, they gave their son the name of an Assyrian deity – Su’en/Sin is the god of the moon (but the word means “wisdom” in Sumerian).

I’m kind of fascinated by the moon. I was watching the show Terra Nova a few weeks ago, and in one scene they make a remark about how big the moon is, because 85 million years ago, when the show takes place, the moon and earth were much closer together. Natural science, you are too cool!


§ 8 Responses to By the light of the Moon – A Halloween-ish post

  • Eponymia says:

    “Name halo” and “like the moonlight” are pretty hard to beat, as meanings — in general I love the look and sound of Turkish names, though Aylin would be mistaken for Kaylin-related trendiness, here. Samsu-Iluna is amazing.

    • namemuststay says:

      I agree – there are few things more lovely to be compared to than moonlight!

      I think Aylin’s similarity to Kaylin or Jaylin would help it – like with boys and all the Aiden, Jaden, and Cayden’s!

  • Moon names are irresistible; I must confess to loving celebrity Luna! Lucine and Ayla are beautiful.

    I have the same hesitation with Io you do – it’s so short, yet it’s not really a simple name, and I’m sure they’d still have to end up spelling their name out and explaining it every time.

    Luna Park in Sydney has been closed several times, but Luna Park in Melbourne is the oldest Luna Park, and some would argue, the best (those some are probably Melbournians).

    • namemuststay says:

      The Melbourne-Sydney dynamic is so funny – very much the same in Canada between Toronto and every other major city. Even though Torontonians don’t get involved in the back and forth – I think it might be a Goliath complex kind of thing here, so maybe not exactly the same as Melbourne v. Sydney. I didn’t go to the Luna Park in Melbourne, but I did watch the Carlton Blues get their butts handed to them by the Crows. Nevertheless, I’m a Carlton girl by default, now!

  • I love the name Luna – the French sometimes spell it Louna, which I’m admittedly fond of. It’s a name that’s definitely catching on, for sure, whether catalysed or not by the Harry Potter books.

    • namemuststay says:

      That’s true – I forgot to mention Luna Lovegood. Perhaps if I had bothered reading ANY of the books over the last decade…(I am, admittedly, a Potter noob.)

      • marginamia says:

        Really beautiful post! i adore moon names. Waaaaay back when my husband and I first got together we wanted a boy named Henry and girl named Luna or Lula (awww. and ha! the ole boy/girl dream) and then rising popularity of both deterred us. I love my girls’ names , but it think the popularity issue really shouldn’t have been an issue at all. Luna is such a lovely name. I’m surprised that I like Leyla Luna as much as I do, but I really do!

  • […] Not as wildly popular as L&L, but still well-recognised and recently covered in depth over as My Advice, where she mentions that fellow England teamate Frank Lampard already has a Luna Coco (sister of […]

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