Happy New Year! As I reflect on the past year and look forward to the next, my mind wanders towards the name January.
Month names are an intriguing category of baby names. The most approachable ones, like April, June, and August are beloved by parents seeking temporal baby names or classic and vintage names. October and December are like 21st-century versions of Octavius / Octavia and Decimus / Decima – numerical Roman names, which, except for Octavia, are rarely popular but steadily used. Others are generational or never used at all. January, which was briefly popular a few decades ago, is related to the name Janus. Here are a few names for parents to consider bestowing on their January babies:
- January itself is one of the versions you’re going to hear most often, and not just because it’s the 1st month of the year. Although only 15 girls received the name in 2021, it used to be in the top 1000 during the late 1970s. Two alternate spellings graced the Social Security Administration birth data during that time – Januari and Januarie. The most famous namesake is probably actress January Jones, though Januarie is also a Geoffrey Chaucer character.
- Janvier is the French word for the month. It first appeared as a girls’ name when January was popular, but in 1992 it flipped to the boys. 5 boys received the name Janvier in 2016, the last year it appeared in SSA data.
- Janus was a Roman god with two faces; one pointed to the past and the other to the future. Janus occasionally appeared as a women’s name in the mid 20th century, probably as a variant of Janice, but usage has been strictly masculine since the 1990s. It last appeared in 2019.
- Jana is usually related to names like John (via Jan) and Anna, making it a rarer alternative to Jane. In this case, I think a parent could use Jana to feminize Janus or name a January baby if not updating Janice and Janet, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some of its more recent usage were inspired by Jana Duggar. 227 girls were named Jana in 2021.
- Januarius (died c. 305 CE) is the patron saint of Naples, Italy. This form of the name comes from the Latin Ianuarius, which was the name of the month. Other famous namesakes include journalist Januarius MacGahan (1844-1878) and German artist Januarius Zick.
- Januaria is the feminine form of Januarius, and the name of a couple of early saints / martyrs. The most famous namesake is Princess Januária of Brazil (1822-1901), younger sister of Queen Maria II of Portugal. If you’re looking for an unconventional name inspired by royalty, this is it!
- Gennaro is the Italian form of Januarius. Perennially popular in Italy, it’s steady but rare in the U.S. 24 boys were named Gennaro in 2021.
Unless a name is already popular or offers up a famous namesake, temporal names are best used in their corresponding times. If you don’t want scenarios like the line of questioning about day of birth that Wednesday Addams receives in the eponymous Netflix show, it’s least confusing if your baby January was born in January. There are exceptions, of course: for example, a baby born on September 19 could be named January in accordance with a Catholic holy day for St. Januarius. Additionally, I wager that most people probably won’t connect Gennaro with January unless they’re Italian or serious name-nerds, so this one can probably be used year-round with ease.
What do you think of the baby name January and its cohorts? Would you use any of them? Let me know, and have a Happy New Year once again!
2 thoughts on “Baby Names Related to January”
I can see the Duggar influence!
And also January Schofield – nickname: Jani.
[that young lady was from a 2009 show called BORN SCHIZOPHRENIC and its various spin-offs].
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Thanks for telling me about Jani Schofield! There was a brief increase in baby girls named January for a few years after 2009, but it’s hard to say definitively whether she’s the cause (Jani was already declining).