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National Name Yourself Day, April 9, and is a day to celebrate reinvention by trying on a new name for size. Studies show there’s a link between someone’s name and their personalities. Social scientists call this phenomenon the Dorian Gray effect, named after Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” referring to internal factors that can shape people. In the novel, Dorian Gray remains youthful and beautiful, but his portrait takes on a more hideous appearance. Outside the story, factors such as personality, self-perception, and social outlook can influence an individual, though probably not as drastic as Dorian’s condition.
History of National Name Yourself Day
A lot of care goes into a name, and cultures show appreciation in different ways. Native Americans held names in high regard and certain tribes conducted naming ceremonies as a rite of passage, basing names on nature, animals, weather and plant life. Names were often chosen based on the features of the baby, such as gender and birth position. This name changed with adulthood as they experienced events in their lives. New names would be chosen to mark accomplishments, often attached to personal and sacred meanings.
Puritans named their children after idealistic concepts. In the seventeenth century, Puritan names like Steadfast-on-high, Obedience, Prudence, and Temperance weren’t uncommon, and they often had religious connotations. This was done in hopes children would take on the meaning of their names and become upstanding citizens that contributed positively to society. Some Puritan names were practically full sentences, filled with hyphens as if to make a hopeful life as clear as possible.
By the middle of the twentieth century, the rise of movie stars brought about American society to reflect on what they watched. Babies were named after famous actors and actresses such as Ava, Audrey, Bette, Cary, Charlie, and Clark. Names became less about ideals and more about the attraction of the celebrity, showing a shift towards a pop-culture driven mindset.
Today, names themselves are revered in much the same way as the past. People are still named after celebrities and famous on-screen characters, but many take a more naturalistic or original approach and choose names outside of the box. As the world modernizes and comes to understand the idea of the self better, identity is also seen as an evolution, which makes National Name Yourself Day a useful tradition we can all learn something from.
National Name Yourself Day timeline
Cultural self-awareness of identity evolves and National Name Yourself Day is celebrated by changing your name.
With the rise of cinema, babies are named after famous Hollywood actors like Ava Gardner and Clark Gable.
Puritans name their children after idealistic concepts in hopes that they possess the qualities of their names.
Native Americans name their children after nature and based on the experiences they undergo as they age.
National Name Yourself Day FAQs
Why is a name important?
A person’s name is an initial impression, but one should always concern themselves with character too.
What is another name for a name?
Appellation, appellative, cognomen, denomination, handle, and moniker are some of the other words for name.
Do all names have a meaning?
Most names have a meaning unless your parents specifically jumbled letters together.
How To Celebrate National Name Yourself Day
Change your name at work
Does work ever seem monotonous? Change your name to one you’ve always liked and ask your coworkers to refer to you as that. Go to a coffee shop and give them your new name and see how the change feels. Maybe you’ll like it, or perhaps it’ll give you a newfound respect for your birth name.
Choose your favorite actor, or character in a movie or book and take their name and their persona out for a spin. Challenge friends to a game and see who pulls off the best impression and who can stay in character the longest. This is a great acting exercise and you’ll see how good others may be playing the guessing game.
Give someone else a name
Invite a friend to celebrate National Name Yourself Day and create a name for each other. Perhaps it’ll be something deep and meaningful that reveals something about their true character, or it could be something comical that will cause people to look at them strangely when they hear it. The power is yours.
5 Facts About National Name Yourself Day
"Neveah" which is heaven spelled backward is one of the rarest names.
Girls in math and science
Based on research, girls with androgynous names fare better in math and science fields.
Boys named Sue
Boys with traditionally girl names have a higher chance of becoming rebels with behavioral problems because of judgment from their school peers.
Ivy League names
Eleanor, Peter, Simon, and Anna are names that have a high likelihood of attending top universities.
Smoke ‘em if you name ‘em
A German study found people with traditionally unappealing names have a high likelihood of becoming smokers.
Why Name Yourself Day Is Important
Knowing your identity
It’s just a game, but it can be so much more. Giving yourself a new name can become a form of expression that allows you to explore other parts of your personality. If you’re too timid, a new name could allow you to embrace being more outgoing, and if you’re too much of an extrovert you can try being more pensive with a studious name.
Reinvention is never too late
After a while, many become stuck and no longer look for anything new about themselves. The truth about life is that things are always changing and we are too. Reinventing gives us an opportunity to grow and become better versions of ourselves, while recognising positive things about our personalities.
It gives you the choice
There are so many things that we don’t have control over, even our name. More than likely, your parents picked out your name, and your opinion was left completely out of the equation. This gives you a chance to rewrite history and see what it’s like on the other side
National Name Yourself Day dates