German Names

In Jewish tradition: It is not uncommon for birth certificates issued to Jewish children to list 'male' or 'female' instead of the child's name. Jewish law and custom is that children get their names (a Jewish name and its English equivalent or substitute) on the 8th day. But, because state law needs a name before the 8th day, the doctor or hospital staff, etc., will write down 'male' or 'female' when the child's English name is not available before the 8th day. In many cases, when the children become adults, they go to court to change their name from 'male' or 'female', as the case may be, to their actual English name. Additionally, if a Jewish child dies before the 8th day, there is no first name on the tombstone. When Pope Gregory re-did the calendar, one of the reasons that January 1 was not chosen as the Christmas Day was that under Jewish law the naming day which for a boy is also the circumcision day -- was/is more important than the birth day. Hence, January 1 was the Feast of the Circumcision. Biblical Nanes: As in Britain, Biblical names are popular, and versions of classical names also exist. Roman influence was less strong, with many of the old Germanic names being retained. In ancient times these were often compound names made up of two different elements which made sense together, but as the custom of naming a child with elements taken from both parents became common the meanings were no longer so important. Prior to the adoption of inherited surnames, a family could indicate their relationship by using the same first element for all the children. Under Nazi rule, a list of names was compiled and it was illegal to use any other names.Nicknames were not allowed and if a child was given two first names the parents had to record which was going to be for daily use. Many Germanic names have now become common in other countries but it was only in recent years that foreign names began to be popular in Germany. French name forms are widely used in the western part of the country and Slavonic influence is apparent in the eastern regions with names such as Wenzel and Stenzel and diminutives like Anja, Anke and Annuschke being common. In southern Germany and Austria, pet names ending in -l and -i are very common, hence Gretel (Grete) and Poldi (Leopold), and the influence of the Catholic church has led to many saints' names being retained. Naming Patterns In the C18th, a child was often given two baptismal names, the first one being that of a saint or having religious connotations. This might be the same for each child in the family. It was the second, secular name by which the person was known.This custom was also followed by German communities in America. It was also common to name children according to a pattern which honored specific relatives and some families adhered strictly to this although some only went as far as the grandparents. If a name was duplicated, the next in the pattern was used instead.


Pattern 1

Pattern 2

Pattern 3

Eldest son paternal grandfather same as 1 for boys paternal grandfather
Second son maternal grandfather maternal grandfather
Third son father father's eldest brother
Fourth son paternal grandfather's father father
Fifth son maternal grandfather's father
Sixth son paternal grandmother's father
Seventh son maternal grandmother's father
Eldest daughter maternal grandmother paternal grandmother paternal grandmother
Second daughter paternal grandmother maternal grandmother maternal grandmother
Third daughter mother mother mother's oldest sister
Fourth daughter paternal grandfather's mother maternal grandfather's mother mother
Fifth daughter maternal grandfather's mother paternal grandfather's mother
Sixth daughter paternal grandmother's mother
Seventh daughter maternal grandmother's mother
Pattern A 1st son after the father's father 2nd son after the mother's father 3rd son after the father 4th son after the father's father's father 5th son after the mother's father's father 6th son after the father's mother's father 7th son after the mother's mother's father 1st daughter after the mother's mother 2nd daughter after the father's mother 3rd daughter after the mother 4th daughter after the father's father's mother 5th daughter after the mother's father's mother 6th daughter after the father's mother's mother 7th daughter after the mother's mother's mother Pattern B The pattern B for the sons is the same as the above but this pattern for daughters was different 1st daughter after the father's mother 2nd daughter after the mother's mother 3rd daughter after the mother 4th daughter after the mother's father's mother 5th daughter after the father's father's mother Pattern C 1st son after the father's father 2nd son after the mother's father 3rd son after the father's oldest brother 4th son after the father 1st daughter after the father's mother 2nd daughter after the mother's mother 3rd daughter after the mother's oldest sister 4th daughter after the mother Thanksto Walter Greenspan Back to the BROOKLYN MAIN Page E-MAIL NOTE: replace the = sign with @