Time for another name interview! Today’s interview is with a 23-year-old from northern Poland named Emilia. Notably, her name at birth wasn’t Emilia, but one of the Polish forms of the name Margaret. Her middle name is Anna.
What’s the story behind her name?
As for my birth name, my Mum’s high school best friend was called my birth name, and they both promised each other that if any of them will have a daughter, she will call her the other’s name. At the same time, it was also my maternal aunt’s name. The friendship was pretty much gone by the time my Mum had me, but she kept the promise anyway.
My middle name Anna is my Mum’s first name – my Dad is Kashub and there is a tradition Kashubs have that a parent’s first name is the child’s middle name.
As for my current, legal name, I chose it mostly just because I’ve always loved Emilia, always felt like an Emilia, this name has strangely always resonated with me very much and I wanted to be an Emilia. Later on, as a teen, I read Emily of New Moon (whose name is Emilia/Emilka in the Polish translation) by L. M. Montgomery, and I found the character of Emily very relatable, felt a strong bond with her. I also learned that, coincidentally, when I was born, my gran had apparently suggested the name Emilia to my parents, which was a huge surprise to me, because – based on her offspring’s names – I would have never thought she could like Emilia. I was called Emilia by people I was close with since childhood, and I hated my birth name (perhaps not in general as a name but I hated it on myself) so it felt like the only natural thing to do – to change my name to Emilia.
What does she like most about her name?
I love the sound of Emilia. I like its softness, how girly it is, the general feel of it. I just feel a strong connection with it. I don’t know closely any other Emilia so that’s a plus too. I like the Emily of New Moon association, as well as that it travels well between different languages and is pronounced pretty much the same in each of them. I like how people always say it fits me, it confirms my great naming skills, lol. And there’s such a wide array of nicknames. Most of which I really do like. I am called Emi, Emilka, Emisia, Emis*, Emisha, Emiszon, Mila, Milka, Emilianna by Poles. Anglophone people usually just call me Emilia but sometimes I am also Emi or Emmie for them, and one person calls me Milzie which is so funny and adorable. A Finnish family I once knew called me Milla.
I like the classicness and classiness of my middle name and the connection to my Mum, and its huge feminine potential.
As a Catholic, the only thing I truly like about my birth name is my patron saint – Bl. Margherita of Castello.
[*The name “Emis” should have an acute accent over the s.]
What does she like least about her name?
I despise the nickname Emila. It’s just one letter’s difference but somehow it’s huge, and I don’t seem to be the only one for whom it makes a difference. Emila conveys a completely different feel to me than Emilia and has much less character, feels kind of shallow and superficial. But not too many people call me Emila and somehow it’s less embarrassing for me to ask people not to call me Emila than it was with my birth name to ask people not to call me my most despised nickname, perhaps because I chose Emilia, so I get to decide what I want to go by. It can get a little annoying when anglo-folks spell my name Amelia over and over (though I can’t blame people as they’re pronounced so similarly in English), but it’s not a huge deal as Amelia is a beautiful name as well. It bugs me a little that it’s very trendy currently for babies over here, but I can well understand why.
About Anna I dislike how popular it is both as a first and middle name, but since it’s only my middle name it’s not a big problem. I also have kind of mixed feelings about that both my sister and me have the same middle, don’t think it was particularly creative of our parents, and my sister isn’t impressed by it either, but on the other hand it’s a nice family connection, especially that, just as I said, Anna is so beautiful and after all neither of us can seriously imagine being named any other middle name.
As for my birth name, what I most disliked about it is that it just never felt like me. It’s not a bad name itself, it’s just not me. Can’t explain it better. Also, being blind, I had trouble during family gatherings when I felt confused whether people were talking to me or my namesake aunt. I cringed at all the nicknames. Another source of confusion was that my and my sister’s casual nicknames rhymed, so when someone called us from a distance, no one knew for sure, which one of us was being called. And, while it’s a pretty classic name, it generally has a bit of a dated feel, so the vast majority of namesakes I encountered were ladies born in the 60’s.
Finally, would Emilia recommend that her name be given to babies today?
Yep. As much as I don’t like the huge popularity of Emilia among baby girls, as I said I can understand it well. I think it has a lot of traits that a lot of parents are after in a baby name these days, at least here, but I guess in the English-speaking world too. It’s elegant, feminine, sophisticated, but sweet and with a lot of nicknames, and is international. And in the English-speaking world – a nice and still not that overwhelmingly popular alternative to trendy Amelia and Emma, and SO very common Emily.
Thank you so much, Emilia, for being so thorough!
P.S. A week ago, the SSA released the latest U.S. baby name data, and we learned that Emilia was in fact one of the fastest-rising girl names of 2019!