In Finland a new born baby has to be given a first name within 2 months of the birth. Traditionally the name is announced by the parents during the baby’s christening which is usually held when the baby is about a month and a half old. Until then, the parents tend to use a nickname for the baby and keep everyone excitingly waiting for them to announce the final choice. There are rules as to what kind of name or names can be given but mostly Finns like to give traditional names anyways.
At the moment most popular new names are Sofia for girls and Elias for boys. Common are also Venla, Aada, Emma and Aino for girls and Onni, Eetu, Leo and Aleksi for boys. It has become trendy to use international names and make them sound more Finnish, like Sofia from Sophie. On the other hand, possibly as a reply to the fashion of internationality, very traditional names like Aino have also gained new popularity. Many parents also like to combine modern and old names, since children can be given up to 3 first names.
Most common Finnish names are Maria, Helena and Johanna for girls and Juhani, Johannes and Olavi for boys, if you count the names of all the living Finns. Some of these names are Finnish versions of biblical names and some have their background in history or in the Finnish mythology. Some common Finnish names also have a meaning, like Satu – fairytale or Helmi – pearl.
Finland also has a long tradition in celebrating name days according to their given name. Most Finnish names have a name day in the Finnish almanac, which is updated every 5 years. A name has to have been given to at least 500 people for it to be considered as common enough to be added to the almanac. Although, if the name is missing, a person can still choose to celebrate a name day according to their second or third name – or making up their own date, just for the fun of it.
Online Finnish lessons for kids: dinolingo.com