Why Family Names Are a Southern Tradition
We don’t have to look far for baby-naming inspiration.
When it comes to naming Baby, there are plenty of places for parents-to-be to look for inspiration: classic novels, Pinterest, pop culture, Hallmark movies … the list goes on. But for Southern parents, there’s only one muse that is sure to win the name game: The family tree.
Like Great Grandmama’s set of silver or Uncle Fred’s hand-carved clock, in the South, family names are passed down like heirlooms. This much-loved, generations-spanning tradition is how we end up with boys named Tripp (a common moniker for those who are the “third”) and girls who have two middle names (sometimes just one isn’t enough to cover all the bases). But whether you are charmed by the South’s undying love for family names or confounded by it, there are a few reasons we’re big on the tradition down here.
1. Family names are timeless.
Characters can be written off a show, and pop culture references come and go, but your favorite grandmother’s name? Well, that’s forever.
2. Family names are unique.
When you’re plucking a name from the family tree, rather than from the year’s “Most Popular Baby Names” list, it’s far less likely that your child will share a name with seven other students in his class.
3. Family names are personal.
At the end of the day, the main reason we love a family name around here is because we love our family. There’s no better way to honor a beloved brother or cherished aunt than sharing their names with the next generation.
Of course, parents should exercise caution, common sense, and compassion when referencing the ol’ genealogical records for baby-name inspiration. Some names—no matter to whom they’re tied—have lost their luster in the sands of time, and some are just better left in the past. One wrong turn onto another branch of my sprawling family tree, and I could have been saddled with “Tascaloe Penny” for life. (Thanks, Mom and Dad.)
WATCH: The South is Inspiring the Biggest Baby Name Trends of 2019
While we may be looking to our family trees for name inspiration, it seems like new parents from the rest of the country are looking to us! According to a recent report from BabyCenter, some of the year's top trending baby names reference Southern states and cities, from Tennessee to Savannah.