Another name, another voyage. Today’s sneak peek — and the last for now — is Christina. Some might find it a bit controversial, but what’s life without a bit of controversy? It also demonstrates pretty clearly the alternative perspective of Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names.
Latin: ‘belonging to CHRIST’ – an alternative form of CHRISTIANA, though rarer in the Middle Ages. An early – possibly the first – example in England is the sister of Edgar Atheling, who was proclaimed King of England in 1066, but never crowned. Both Edgar and his sister were born in Hungary in the mid 11th Century, where their father was in exile. Their mother’s identity has long been a matter of debate, but currently one of the most popular theories is that she was the daughter of Yaroslav I the wise of Kiev and his Swedish wife. This would make sense, as Christina – one of the most popular Swedish names – was already in use there at the time. In the 19th Century, Christina largely supplanted Christiana – in the same way Georgina usurped Georgiana. In the 20th Century, this process continued, with the even simpler French Christine coming into use towards the end of the 19th Century. Diminutives: CHRIS, Chrissie, Chrissy, CHRISTIE, Christy. Variants: Christene, Chrystine, Cristine, Crystine, Krystyna. Italian: Cristina, Irish Gaelic: Crístíona, Scandinavian: Kerstin, Danish, Norwegian: KIRSTEN, Kristine, Scots: Kirstin; Kirsty, Kirstie (diminutive), Swedish: Kristina, Hungarian: Krisztina. Bearers: Christine Daaé, heroine of Gaston Leroux’s novel Phantom of the Opera (1911).
Feminine of CHRISTIAN. Introduced in the 12th Century, it rapidly became very popular, usually used in the vernacular form Christian, which was far more common as a girl’s name than a boy’s until the 18th Century, when Christiana itself was revived. Variants: Kristyan, Kirstyan (hist). Diminutives: CHRIS, Chrissie, Chrissy, CHRISTIE, Christy (modern).
Christian ♂ ♀
The meaning of the boy’s name Christian is not quite as transparent as it looks. It derives from Latin Christianus ‘belonging to CHRIST’, when in the Middle Ages the usual English word for ‘a Christian’ was Christen. Admittedly, this is splitting hairs. 12th Century. German: Carsten, Karsten, Danish, Swedish: Kristen, Danish, Finnish: Kristian, Czech: Kristián, Hungarian: Krisztián. The girl’s name arose as a vernacular form of CHRISTIANA.
Usual English form of Latin: Christus < Greek: Khristos ‘anointed’ < khriô ‘to rub with scented unguents’. It was used by Christian writers to translate the Hebrew messiah as ‘anointed one’. The basic meaning of the adjective khristos is simply ‘to be rubbed on’, ‘used as an ointment/salve’ and ‘anointing’. While the name Christ itself carries a considerable amount of baggage – perhaps too much for most – this way of interpreting the name also allows any Pagan to feel entirely justified in using any of the Christ- names, should they choose. Also, there’s no reason why Pagans shouldn’t reclaim the word khristos, which was Pagan long before it was appropriated by Christianity. Although most Christians consider the name Christ to be too sacred to use as a given name, why should non-Christians regard it as more sacred than the name of any other deity? Despite the fact most other books on names choose to ignore it, Christ has been used as a genuine given name since at least the 18th Century.