National Dorothy Day is celebrated every year on December 3 and is the official appreciation day for every Dorothy on this fair earth of ours. It’s a name that is bound to evoke nostalgic memories of childhood, especially for those who have either read or watched that evergreen classic — “The Wizard of Oz.” And maybe today is the day that changes for people who have no understanding of what the earlier reference meant. The name Dorothy means “gift of God” and is the anglicized version of the original Greek name, Dorothea. Legend has it that there was a saint named Dorothea for whom the name gained popularity, thanks to the romanticism surrounding her martyrdom.
History of National Dorothy Day
The name Dorothy is first said to have appeared in the year 1880, with 112 babies being given that name. It reached peak popularity in the 1920s. The year 1924 had the highest record of babies named Dorothy, with a whopping total of 39,999 girls being christened with that name, a large proportion of whom were in the state of Pennsylvania. In the state of Illinois alone, in 1914, Dorothy was recorded as the third most popular baby girl name.
As far as history goes, the “Martyrologium Hieronymianum” is the earliest source to record the name, Dorothea. This text was literally a little black book, which listed the names of Christian martyrs, in chronological order. It was the most influential text during the Middle Ages and is the oldest surviving ‘martyrology’ to contain names of martyrs from all over. However, we won’t just give you the plain old facts of Dorothea’s martyrdom and consequent sainthood. The legend behind it is always the juiciest part. The story goes that Dorothea was a beautiful young Christian woman who lived in Caesarea, Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey), around 290 to 311 A.D. A lawyer named Theophilus fell in love with her, however, she rejected him on the basis of him being a pagan. Thus spurned, Theophilus reported her to the Roman governor for the crime of refusing to participate in idol sacrifice. At this time, Christian persecution was rampant so Dorothea was promptly sentenced to death for her heresy. On the way, Theophilus mocked her by asking her to send apples and roses from the garden in Paradise. Upon her death, an angel did just that, which caused Theophilus to convert.
Today, St. Dorothy is considered the patron saint of gardeners, and her feast is celebrated in some parts of the world, on February 6. During the 1300s, she was a favorite subject for artists, with many paintings and sculptures depicting her. Another notable Dorothy was Dorothy May Crowfoot Hodgkin — a British chemist who enhanced the use of X-ray crystallography to better understand biomolecular structures, winning her the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1964. Other famous Dorothies include a woman who dressed as a man to fight in World War I, a radical Catholic social activist and anarchist, an African-American woman elected to serve in the Louisiana House of Representatives, and a British hymn writer known for her children’s hymns.
National Dorothy Day timeline
Dorothea of Caesarea achieves sainthood after being martyred by the Roman authorities for refusing to renounce her faith.
British journalist Lawrence disguises herself as a man and enlists in the army to go fight on the Western Front.
The first film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is released in technicolor.
For her contribution to chemistry, Hodgkin becomes the only British female scientist to receive the Nobel Prize in any of the sciences.
National Dorothy Day FAQs
What’s a nickname for Dorothy?
There are so many nicknames for Dorothy, that you’d be hard-pressed to pick just one. Dotty, Dolly, and Dot are among them, as are Dora, Dodie, Doro, and Thea.
What other names mean “God’s gift?”
Some other names that have the same or similar meaning to Dorothy are Jonathan, Mateo, and Mehir. There are many names across cultures and languages that could have the same meaning.
Where did the name Doris come from?
The name Doris (a nickname for Dorothy sometimes) comes from Greek as well. It means ‘gift’ or “gift from the sea” and originates from the Dorians, a Greek mythological tribe.
National Dorothy Day Activities
Show some love to a Dorothy
Go dotty and make the Dorothy in your life feel extra special today. If you don’t know a Dorothy, challenge yourself and get to know one. We’ll leave the ‘how’ part up to you.
Pick a favorite Dorothy
We’ve already given you a list of Dorothies to begin with. Go forth and take to the Internet in an attempt to find out more about the myriad Dorothies who have earned their place in legend and history. And if Dorothy the Dinosaur is secretly your favorite, we won't judge you.
Gift something to someone
Since the meaning of Dorothy is literally ‘God’s gift,’ why not get inspired by the name and give someone a gift? While ideally you should give a gift to Dorothy, don’t let that stop you. Gift-giving is one of the most common expressions of love and appreciation, so pick someone and give them a special something.
5 Facts About The Name Dorothy That You Should Know
Dorothy has a last name
The iconic character of Dorothy, the teenager from Kansas (played by Judy Garland in the film), actually has a last name too, and that’s Gale (ironically).
Dorofei is not a mispronunciation
Contrary to what one may think, the name Dorofei is the male version of Dorothy and is a rare Russian variant.
Dorothea and Theodora
Look closely and you’ll notice that Theodora is an anagram of Dorothea, and actually stems from it.
The popular singer Dodie is a Dorothy
British singer-songwriter Dodie, who rose to fame on YouTube, is really named Dorothy Miranda Clark.
Dorothy is one of the ‘Golden Girls’
Dorothy Zbornak, played by Bea Arthur, is one of the most iconic characters in the critically acclaimed series, “The Golden Girls.”
Why We Love National Dorothy Day
It takes one on a nostalgic trip
The name Dorothy just evokes a pleasurable sort of nostalgia when one thinks back to some of the most iconic characters of the same name. From Dorothy Gale of “Wizard of Oz” fame to Dorothy Zbornak, one of the “Golden Girls,” it seems to be synonymous with feel-good classics.
Inspirational female personalities
If you take the time to do some reading, you will notice that many of the famous Dorothies are women who have shown resilience and courage in the face of adversity. They are all women of substance, which is inspiring for everyone, not just those named Dorothy.
Dorothies love to have fun
According to certain Internet personality tests, those with the name Dorothy are more prone to being energetic, fun-loving people with magnetic personalities. Tap into your inner Dorothy and go have some fun. Try something new. And if you’re lucky enough to know a Dorothy, you are in good hands.
National Dorothy Day dates