Spain does not allow baby to be named Lenin

Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924)
Vladimir Lenin

In 1986, a couple in a small town in northwestern Spain decided to name their baby Lenin.

A district judge, however, rejected the name — not for political reasons, but because “Spanish law did not permit civil registers to include foreign pseudonyms or nicknames which have no Spanish equivalent.”

Vladimir Lenin — leader of the Russian Revolution and founder of the Soviet state — was born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov in 1870. He adopted the pseudonym Lenin in the early 1900s to evade detection by tsarist authorities.

Why “Lenin”? No one knows for certain:

Was he inspired by the Siberian river Lena? Or was Lena the name of an early girlfriend? Or was it that the Slavonic etymological root of Lenin implies laziness and that Vladimir Ulyanov, like a medieval monk in a hairshirt, wanted to remind himself constantly that effort was needed?

In the U.S., several dozen babies per year are named Lenin.


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