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First names

Up until the end of the 14th century Lithuanians used to be given ethnic names. Christian names of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German and Slavic origin came with the introduction of Christianity (e.g. male names: Andrius, Antanas, Jonas, Juozas, Jurgis, Kazys, Leonas, Petras, Simonas; female names: Agota, leva, Magdalena, Marija, Ona, Veronika, Simona and others).

The revival of Lithuanian ethnic names came with the national rebirth at the turn of the 20th century, The first calendars with ethnic names were published in the 1920's. In 1930, the jubilee year of Vytautas the Great, his name became extremely popular. At present the popularity of Christian and ethnic names has increased again. Some people have two or even three names because only a Christian name can be given at baptism.

Today Lithuanians are often given the names of the Lithuanian Grand Dukes (Algirdas, Vytautas, Mindaugas, Birute), Christian names, ethnic names of other nations, mythological names (Austeja, Laima), names of literary origin (Adam Mickewicz's Grazina, Vydunas' Daiva), names derived from place names (Naglis, Neringa are place names on the coast of the Baltic Sea which are used also as personal names). Very often female names are derived from male names merely by changing the ending, for example, Vytautas - Vytaute. At present, the list of names which are in use or are recommended for use, include 3500 names.

At the beginning of the 20th century babies were often given names which they "had brought at birth", that is, the names of the saints on whose day the baby was born. The tradition of giving babies the names of the family is still alive, provided the relative is or was an honorable person.

Lithuanians call each other by their first name. Their patronymics is indicated only in important documents. In earlier times in villages women used to be called also by their husband's first name adding the suffix - iene: Jonas - Joniene, Antanas - Antaniene.



next previous contents
Next: Ethnic regions Previous: Lithuanian surnames

J. Kudirka "THE LITHUANIANS"

Copyright ©, 1996 Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre.