The country of Finland is located in Northern Europe and shares land borders with Russia, Sweden, and Norway.
Most of the people in Finland speak Finnish (86.5%), but the rest of the population speaks either Swedish (5.2%), Sami (0.04%), or some other language (8.3%) such as Russian, Estonian, or Arabic.
Last year, Finland welcomed over 51,000 babies. At the time the country released its baby name data, 50,547 of these babies — 24,764 girls and 25,783 boys — had been named.
And what were the most popular names overall? Olivia and Leo.
Finland’s baby name data is broken down by language group, so let’s start with the Finnish speakers…
Of the 41,478 (named) babies born to Finnish speakers in Finland last year, 20,301 were girls and 21,177 were boys.
Here are the top 50 girl names and top 50 boy names of 2021:
Olivia, 312 baby girls
Venla, 254 (3-way tie)
Aino, 254 (3-way tie)
Isla, 254 (3-way tie)
Linnea, 214 (tie)
Ellen, 214 (tie)
Ilona, 140 (tie)
Mila, 140 (tie)
Amanda, 134 (tie)
Alisa, 134 (tie)
Elsi, 132 (tie)
Alina, 132 (tie)
Hertta, 119 (tie)
Lumi, 119 (tie)
Saimi, 107 (tie)
Selma, 107 (tie)
Viivi, 105 (tie)
Iida, 105 (tie)
Leo, 397 baby boys
Aatos, 230 – a Finnish term meaning “thought”
Oiva, 178 – means “splendid” in Finnish
Otso, 157 – means “bear” in Finnish
Eelis, 139 (tie)
Matias, 139 (tie)
Veikko, 138 (tie)
Aaron, 138 (tie)
Jasper, 127 (3-way tie)
Samuel, 127 (3-way tie)
Rasmus, 127 (3-way tie)
Eemeli, 126 (3-way tie)
Milo, 126 (3-way tie)
Niklas, 126 (3-way tie)
Iivo, 120 (3-way tie)
Veeti, 120 (3-way tie)
Max, 120 (3-way tie)
Minna Saarelma-Paukkala, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, had this to say about Finland’s unique baby names:
Many of them are nature-related, such as Havu (Sprig), Vadelma (Raspberry), Skysy (Autumn) or Tyrsky (Wave). Many new names are also created on the basis of older names, such as snow (Lumi) related ones like Lumia, Lumiina and Lumitähti.
She also noted that names trendy in Finland in the 1940s — particularly those beginning with the letter r, such as Ritva and Raimo — could be coming back. “Reino, for example, has already risen into the top 100.” (Reino is the Finnish form of Reynold.)
Of the 3,458 (named) babies born to Swedish speakers in Finland last year, 1,698 were girls and 1,760 were boys. Here are the top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names:
Interestingly, Alice and Noah — the top names in Sweden — weren’t as popular among the Swedes of Finland. Alice didn’t even make the top 50. (Noah ranked 50th exactly.)
Of the 5,611 (named) babies born in Finland last year to parents who speak something other than Finnish or Swedish, 2,765 were girls and 2,846 were boys. Here are the top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names:
Years ago, I mentioned that Malta was the only nation I knew of in which parents were not allowed to register baby names in the national language.
Why couldn’t they? Because Malta’s government IT systems could not handle Maltese font.
But “a collective overhaul across government IT systems [is now] being done to ensure Maltese orthography is accepted across the board,” and Malta will soon be allowing parents to officially bestow traditional Maltese names.
Maltese, a Semitic language that descended from Sicilian Arabic, has six letters that English doesn’t have. One of them, ie, is easy enough to replicate on a computer; the other five (below) are not.
Here’s how to pronounce them, roughly:
C-with-a-dot makes a ch-sound
G-with-a-dot makes a j-sound (without the dot, G makes a g-sound)
Gh-with-a-line is silent*
H-with-a-line makes an h-sound (without the line, H is silent*)
Z-with-a-dot makes a z-sound (without the dot, Z makes a ts-sound)
Without these letters, a large number of traditional Maltese names are unable to be rendered properly.
(I would love to list some of those names, but, ironically, I can’t — WordPress hasn’t played nicely with special characters ever since the introduction of the Gutenberg editor a few years back.)
Anyway…well done, Malta! I’m proud of you. :)
Mallette, Karla. European Modernity and the Arab Mediterranean. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.
*More on the silent letters: “Maltese orthography continues to reflect the presence of some letters that are no longer pronounced in order to indicate semantic provenance — a convenience that makes it possible, among other things, to look up words in the dictionary under the three-consonant root (as one does with Semitic languages).”
Update, 6/13/20: Here’s an image of a list of traditional Maltese names…
The list above includes Maltese names that are equivalent to: Angelo, Beatrice, Francis, Elizabeth, Jacob, James, George, Juliet, Justin, Joseph, John, Hilda, Lucia, Luigi, Theresa, and Vincent.
P.S. While gathering these names, I happened to find out that the surname Buttigieg — as in former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg — is Maltese and means “poulterer.” Specifically, it comes from a pair of Sicilian Arabic words meaning “father, master, owner” and “fowl.”
Update, 1/2/21: “A baby boy called Ganni is the first child to be officially named using Maltese fonts after an IT system change that recognises letters in the national language” (Times of Malta, Dec. 23). Of course that uppercase G-with-a-dot won’t render correctly in this post, though, so here’s an image:
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).