Estonian name-days for Nov. 27 through Dec. 3

How quickly the days grow shorter, darker, colder. And yet until a couple of days ago, there were still a few trees blazing with color, Bradford pears and their close relatives. Their shiny, leathery leaves are among the last to change hue and fall.

One of the loveliest things I look forward to seeing at this time of year is the blooming of cherry trees in Redland Park near my home, accompanied by the yellow flowers on an old forsythia bush across Redland Road from the park. There is only a sprinkling of pink cherry blossoms, nothing like the massive clouds of bloom they put forth in the spring. The forsythia, too, only gives a partial performance before going to sleep for winter.

But these blossoms lift my heart and fill it with hope at a time of year when everything else seems to be withering and turning brown.

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 The November 27 Estonian names for the day are Asta, Astra and Astrid. While there is a St. Astrid or Asteria, a martyr from Bergamo, Italy who died in the early 4th Century, her feast day is August 10 in the Catholic Calendar of Saints. There is also a male St. Astrik with a Nov. 12 feast day.

In Old Scandinavian, Astrid and Estrid both mean beloved of God. Prior to 1901, Nov.27 was the Swedish name day for Agricola, Gudrund and Vitalis; it was subsequently changed to Estrid. Historically there was an Estrid Svendsdatter, sister of Cnut the Great.

In 1907, Sweden changed the Nov. 27 name to Astrid to honor its young Princess Astrid, born on Nov. 17, 1905. Finland and Estonia followed suit, with Astrid and its variations as the names for Nov. 27.  Slovakia’s Astrid name day is Nov. 12, probably for the aforementioned male St. Astrik. In Norway, Astrid is the name for April 13; Germany’s is August 10 in keeping with the Catholic saint’s day, and in Spain, Astrid’s day is January 2.

In the Estonian language, astrid is also the plural for the autumn flower aster. The flower’s name in both Estonian and English comes from the Greek word for star.

November 28 names in the Estonian name day calendar are Laima, Raima and Niina, all feminine.  Laima is the goddess of luck and fate in Latvia and Lithuania, the two small Baltic nations south of Estonia. Latvia’s name for the preceding day, Nov. 27, is Laimdots. I don’t know whether this is a male or female name, but it probably came from Laimis, the Latvian name for the goddess. Laimdots is also one of the Latvian names for June 22, the same day Lithuanians use for Laima.

The name Raima may have roots in Sanskrit and means pleasing in Urdu, one of the languages of India. Both the Latvian and Lithuanian languages are descended from ancient Sanskrit. In Lithuania, the male name Rimgaudas, which resembles Raima, is one of several names of the day for November 28.  April 1 is another Rimgaudas name day there.

However Raivo Seppo’s book on Estonian names, Elavad Nimed, gives Raima a German or Saxon origin, associating it with the male names Raimo, Raimond and Raimund, noting that Raimund and its feminine, Raimunda, derive from Frankish Reginmunde. The web site Behind the Name links these names to Raymond, which it says means wise protector.  Seppo adds the female name Raidi to the names for Nov. 28.

Now for Niina.  There is a St. Saturninus whose feast day is Nov. 29 and I imagine that’s the reason for Niina’s name day on the 28th.  In Finnish, Niina is considered a short form of Anniina.  Seppo writes that Niina originates from the Sumerian goddess Nin and places Niina’s name-day as August 15. He also associates Niina with the niinepuu, linden tree, a sacred tree that is also called a pärn in Estonia.

There is a St. Nina honored by the Orthodox Church on Jan. 14.

November 29 has the male names Edgar and Egert on the Estonian name-day calendar.  I can’t find any other European countries where these names are associated with this date.

Wikipedia says “Edgar is a common name from Old English words ead (meaning “rich, happy, prosperous”) + gar (meaning “spear”). ” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar

It may be that those names were selected for the day because there is a St. Egelwine of Athelney, a West Saxon prince who lived in the 7th Century, who is honored on November 26 in the Catholic Church. St. Egelwine’s day is November 29 in the Orthodox Church. Edgar, which was my father’s first name, comes from Old English Odgar  (blessed spear).

Egert is said to come either from derived from Eginhard or Eckhard, a Germanic name meaning brave edge or strong through the sword. Also there is “Egert(er), Egart(er), distorted form Ehgartner, Ege(n)ter (all in Bavaria and Austria) containing Middle High German egerte ‘fallow land”according to the web site http://docs.exdat.com/docs/index-73268.html?page=10

On November 30 , many European countries use name-day variations of Andrew to honor St. Andrew, the first apostle. Estonia is no exception, with the names Andreas, Andres, Andrus, Andre, Andro, Ando, Andu, Andi and Anti for Nov. 30. I would also add the common nickname Ants, which, for non-Estonians, is pronounced Untz.  The Finnish names for the day are Antti, Antero and Alle.

The name Andrew comes from Greek  and means manly, brave.  (from ἀνδρεία, Andreia, “manhood, valor”, according to Wikipedia).

On December 1, the names Oskar, Osmar and Oss have their day.  In Finland, Oskari is the name for the day, and in Sweden the names are Oskar and Ossian.

According to Wikipedia, Oscar  is a masculine given name in English and Irish. Its cognates include the Scottish Gaelic Osgar, the German and Scandinavian Oskar, and Finnish Oskari. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_(given_name)

Osmar means “divinely glorious” in old Saxon.

As for why those names were chosen for December 1, the following are just guesses on my part.

The Orthodox Church celebrates a St. Onesimus on Dec. 1. This saint is called Onesimus of Byzantium and The Holy Apostle Onesimus in some Eastern Orthodox  traditions. There is also a St. Osmund of Salisbury honored by the Catholic church on Dec. 4. He was a bishop of Norman heritage who helped compile the Domesday Book.

The December 2 names are Aira, Aire and Airi, similar to the Finnish Airi and Aira names for Dec. 4. In Poland, one of several names for Dec. 2 is Aurelia; in Lithuania it’s Aurelija. The  name may commemorate St. Aurelia, a Roman martyr who died circa 256 CE. There is also Saint Aurelia of Strasbourg, a 4th-century saint. Wikipedia says the name Aurelia comes from the Latin family name Aurelius, which was derived from aureus meaning “golden”.

Seppo’s book says Aire and Aira come from Finnish and mean käskjalg, courier or messenger of the gods.

December 3 names are Leiger and Leino. Seppo writes that Leiger means pillimees, mängia, which mean musician or instrument player. Leino means protected from mourning according to Seppo.

Again, I don’t know why those names were chosen for this date, but the names have a small  resemblance to a Catholic St. Leontius, a 5th Century French bishop honored on Dec. 1. There is also a St. Eligius, a 7th Century French bishop, honored Dec. 1.

 ***

Wishing you all a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude for our many blessings.

Note: there are many different calendars of saints online, some of which differ a great deal from one another.

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One comment on “Estonian name-days for Nov. 27 through Dec. 3

  1. Linda Nurmsen Freeman says:

    Thank you so much for your interesting blog.
    The Estonian immigrant experience is so rich
    Linda (you know where that
    name came from —)

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