Daaniel to Rahel, names for December 11-17

Let’s travel back in time to December 11, 2013.

I left off posting about Estonian name-days after the week of December 4 through 10, with the exception of Toomas on Dec. 21, in order to prepare for the holidays and celebrate them. Now let’s catch up on the names and dates that were missed.

Daaniel on December 11

December 11 is the day for the Estonian names Daaniel, Taaniel, Tanel, Tani, Taano and Tonno.  Raivo Seppo, in his book Elavad Nimed, adds Tanil, Tanjel, Tann, Tanni and Tannil. All are masculine names and are Estonian variants of the Hebrew-derived name Daniel, which means “God is my judge.”  The name-day honors St. Daniel the Stylite, born circa 409 CE in Syria.  In Finland, the names for the day are Taneli, Tatu and Daniel. In Sweden the names are Daniel and Daniela.

Aivar, Aiver and Aivo on December 12

The names on the Estonian name-day calendar for December 12 are  Aivar, Aiver and Aivo, all male. Seppo says they derive from Ivor, a Scandinavian name.  The website Behind the Name says Ivor comes from the Old Norse name Ívarr, which was derived from the elements yr “yew, bow” and arr “warrior.” The Scottish and British name Evander is also derived from Ivor. http://www.behindthename.com/name/ivor

But why was Aivar chosen for this particular day? It sounds a little bit like the female names Ivana and Giovanna. Looking at the names for the day in other countries, one sees Johanna F. v. C in Austria, Ivana Franciska in Croatia, Chantal in France, Johanna in Germany and St. Giovanna Francesca Frémyot di Chantal in Italy. These all derive from Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, who died Dec. 13, 1641 CE and was canonized in 1767. The saint’s feast day is now generally celebrated in August, but also December 12, which is closer to the anniversary of her death. Source:  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=60

December 13: Lucia

Lucia is the name for December 13. It is no coincidence that this is also the feast-day for  St. Lucia (Lucy) of Syracuse, a martyr of the early 4th Century CE who is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches. The name Lucia is based on the Latin word for light, lux.

Other Estonian names for this date are also feminine: Hele, Ele, Ere, Loviise, Luise, Viise and Lutsia. Seppo adds Heleri and replaces Ere with Eleri in his book, Elavad Nimed.  Hele and Ele  can mean bright, pale, or fair, so they also refer to light. Lutsia is an Estonianized spelling of Lucia.The names  Heleri and Eleri derive from Hele, according to Seppo.

Loviise and its shortened form Viise correspond to the English name Louise, the feminine of Louis. The name Louis comes from Latin Ludovicus, a form of the Germanic name Ludwig, which derives from the Germanic name Chlodovech, “famous warrior”  according to the website Behind the Name.  Obviously Loviise and Viise have nothing to do with light, but were probably chosen for this day because they sound a bit like Lutsia.

December 14: Eho, Hengo and Hingo

The names for December 14 are Eho, Hengo and Hingo, all masculine. I presume Eho is the male form of Eha, which means evening twilight. Hengo and Hingo derive from hing, soul or breath.

There is a St. Fingar whose feast-day is Dec. 14, so Hengo and Hingo could have been chosen for their resemblance to the saint’s name. Born in Ireland, St. Fingar was martyred in Cornwall, England in the 5th Century CE.

December 15: Kalli. Kelli, Kulla, Killu, and Halli

Kalli. Kelli, Kulla, Killu, and Halli are the names for December 15, all feminine. Darned if I know why they were chosen for this day. I can’t find any saints with names that resemble any of these.  In Poland, Celina is one of many names for this day, but it’s not used in other European countries.  Heimo is the name for the day in Finland.  Kalli means dear or precious, Kelli means bells, Kulla means gold and Halli means frost.

Adelheid on December 16

The December 16 names are Adelheid, Adeele. Ethel, Aade, Aale, Teele, Haide, Aliide and  Liide, all female. Adelheid is also the name for the day in Germany and Austria, with the nickname Heidi in Germany;  Albina and Adela in Croatia;  Albína in the Czech Republic; Alice in France; Aletta and Etelka in Hungary;  St. Albina in Italy; Alvine in Latvia; Albina and Alina among other names in Lithuania;  Adelajda, Ado, Albina, Alina and Ananiasz in Poland,  and Albina in the Slovak Republic. Finland’s day-names are Auli, Aulikki and Aada. Source: http://www.namedaycalendar.com/december

Catholic saints honored on December 16 include St. Adelaide of Burgundy (French, d. 999 CE), St. Ado of Vienne (male, French, d. 875 CE) and St. Albina of Caesarea (Palestinian, martyred c. 250 CE). You can see the connections between the saints’ names and the name-day names easily. The name Ethel in the Estonian list was probably added because it sounds a bit like the Adel in Adelheid. The names Adelaide and Adelheid come from the Germanic name Adalheidis, which means  adal “noble” and heid “kind, sort, type.” Source: http://www.behindthename.com/name/adelaide

Rahel and Raili on December 17

For December 17, the names are Rahel and Raili; in Finland it’s Raakel.  Rahel and Raakel are versions of the name Rachel, but I can’t find any connection to saints’ days or names in other European countries.  There was a male St. Briarch of Brittany (Welsh, abbot in France, d. 627 CE) honored on December 17, whose name has some similarity to Rachel.  Source:  http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=007PVC 

In Greece, Rachel is one of a number of Biblical names chosen for December 14. The name comes from a Hebrew word meaning “ewe.”

Jõulud, Joulu, Juhla, Jul, Yule and Yalda

Jõulud is — actually I should write are, because the word jõulud is plural — the most important holiday(s) in Estonia.  The holiday period lasts from St. Thomas’s Day, December 21, to January 6, Three Kings Day or even longer if the Yule beer lasts.

The word jõulud is the equivalent of Yule – it means Yules. Both the words jõulud and Yule harken back to the pagan festivals of feasting and honoring the return of the sun at midwinter that preceded Christianity and Christmas.

When we speak of midwinter and midsummer, it does not refer to  a day in the middle of the period from Dec. 21 and March 21, or a day in the middle of the period from June 21 and Sept. 21. In some  pagan concepts of time, winter, or the cessation of the growing season, is said to begin around the fall equinox and last until the spring equinox. Likewise, summer means the six months, more of less, when plants grow, flower and go to seed between the spring equinox on or about March 21, and the fall equinox, on or about September 21 in the Northern Hemisphere.

In other words, midwinter is the day halfway between the fall and spring equinoxes, the day of the winter solstice, which usually happens on or about December 21. Midsummer is the day of the summer solstice, on or around June 21.

Ukon juhla

Variations of the word Yule or Jul are used in place of the word Christmas in Scandinavian countries,  including Finland. I note here that before 1316 CE (Common Era), the Finns called the summer solstice Ukon juhla. Ukon refers to Ukko, one of their old pagan gods, (Uko or Uku in Estonia) and juhla means celebration. I presume juhla means the same thing as jõulu, which would lead to the conclusion that Yule originally meant nothing more than “celebration.”

According to Wikipedia:

“Yule is the modern English representation of the Old English words ġéol or ġéohol and ġéola or ġéoli, with the former indicating the 12-day festival of “Yule” (later: “Christmastime”) and the latter indicating the month of “Yule”, whereby ǽrra ġéola referred to the period before the Yule festival (December) and æftera ġéola referred to the period after Yule (January). Both words are thought to be derived from Common Germanic *jeχʷla-, and are cognate with Gothic (fruma) jiuleis and Old Norse (Icelandic and Faroese) jól (Danish and Swedish jul and Norwegian jul or jol) as well as ýlir, Estonian jõulud and Finnish joulu. The etymological pedigree of the word, however, remains uncertain, though numerous speculative attempts have been made to find Indo-European cognates outside the Germanic group, too.” Much more about Yule at this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule

Yalda

I’ve also run across speculation that the word Yule might be connected with Yalda, an Iranian holiday that takes place on the winter solstice, usually December 21. It celebrates the victory of light over darkness, and the renewal of the Sun. The word Yalda means birth, and at one time  it marked  the birth of the Zoroastrian god of light Mithras. More information: http://www.farsinet.com/norooz/yalda.html

Mithraism became popular among members of the ancient Roman military, and they celebrated the birth of Mithras on December 25. This holiday was called Natalis Solis Invicti (nativity of the unconquerable sun.) Eventually that date was adopted by the Christian church as the official date of the birth of Jesus.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the evening of December 24 is when Estonians celebrate Christmas. In many pagan traditions, as well as in Judaism, holidays start at sundown on the evening before the official day.

In Estonia, December 24 is called jõululaupäev, which literally means “bath day for Yule.” In the past, Estonians headed for the saun, steamed off the accumulated dirt of work and the big house cleaning that took place on December 21, and put on fresh clothes. Some still do this. Some attend an early church service at 3 or 4 pm, then head home for the traditional dinner of roast pork. sauerkraut and blood sausage.  The holiday officially starts when the first star is sighted in the sky.

The Yule Elder, jõuluvana, is Estonia’s version of Santa Claus, and brings presents while the family is at church. During the Soviet years, when religious observances such as Christmas were forbidden, a secular holiday took place on New Year’s Eve, and gifts were delivered by Father New Year.

(This was going to be posted on December 24, 2013, but the holidays got a bit hectic. I am just now recovering from jõulud and the subsequent Polar Vortex.)