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Monday, June 10, 2013

Naming a baby in Germany

Choosing a name for a baby is a big deal. I mean it's what they will be called for life. That's huge, and scary, and can be overwhelming at times. Some people use classic family names that have been around for generations while others choose something more unique and trendy. There are the people that know the name they are going to use before they are even pregnant, and some people wait until they meet their child before choosing a name. 

Whenever people find out you're pregnant everyone wants to chat about baby names. Everyone has their favorite names or names they absolutely hate. Everyone has an opinion.

Thinking about nicknames, initials, meanings behind a name, all of those things are things you think about when talking baby names. Naming someone for life is hard.

And  if you have older children, you have to worry about how it will sound along side each other. Do they sound nice together? Because, let's face it, you'll probably be saying them together a lot, calling them for dinner, talking about them in general.

But, if all of that isn't stressful enough, in the USA you can name your child pretty much anything you want, but imagine if you lived in Germany and had to deal with baby-naming laws.

Yes, you read that right. 
Germany has laws on baby-naming! 
You better think twice before naming your Junge (boys) and Mädchen (girls)

I know you are wondering what these restrictions are and here are some of them:
  • Names must be gender specific, except for Maria which can be used as a second boy's name.

  • Names must follow order and decency. 

  • No biblical names with negative connections or negative names in general  (Cain, Lucifer, Adolph)

  • No names of products or brands. (Nike, Apple)

  • A child can have up to 5 names, but only 28 characters in a name. 

  • Surnames can not be used as first names.

  • No geographical names. (Berlin, Paris, River)

  • No titles of nobility. (Princess, Duke)

  • No names that will “negatively affect the well-being of the child.”

Here are some interesting facts I found when researching this:

Huckleberry was turned down because the character Huckleberry Finn was an outsider in the Mark Twain novel.

Miatt was denied because it wasn't known whether or not it was male or female.

The name Whoppi (to honor Whoppi Goldberg) was denied because of the expression "making whoopee". 

Your name has to be approved by the office of vital statistics, the Standesamt, in your region. Each name you submit costs a fine. If you name is denied, you can submit a new name for another fee.

So what DO Germans name their children?
My landlord told me two popular boy names now are Max and Otto. Seems right.
I also found boy and girl name lists for the top 5 German names in 2012.

1. Luca
2. Maximilian
3. Alexander
4. Paul
5. Ben

1. Sophie
2. Marie
3. Maria
4. Sophia
5. Mia

Pretty average names huh? 

Luckily, for our family, none of these baby naming laws are a problem because we don't fall under these restrictions. We get to pick a name that suits us and our family without having to check with the local law. And for now we're still debating. Like I said, it's hard naming someone for life. But, we think we have it down to 2 names. For now we're keeping them under wraps.

So, would you have a problem with name restrictions? 
Would a name you love be denied? 
Or do you think naming laws are a good idea?


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1 comment:

  1. I think it's pretty crazy that they have actual laws and can deny names. That said, it probably saves some poor kids from really unfortunate names!