Sunday, November 17, 2013

What in the Name?

Why do Low German Mennonites all have the same names?

It goes like this. The firstborn daughter is named after her mother’s mother (her grandmother).  The firstborn son is named after his fathers’ father (his grandfather). The second born daughter is named after her father’s mother. The second born son is named after his mother’s father.

The rest of the children are named after the parents’ siblings from oldest to youngest. So then, the third son is named after the father’s oldest brother and the next daughter would be named after the oldest sister of her mother who was not named after her grandmother, and so on, and so on.

It was rare that parents would name their child a name that had not been in the family before.  The average couple would have twelve children and each child would be named according to tradition.  Most of them would live in the same colony as the parents and grandparents.

This recipe populates Mennonite colonies with far too many Abes.  


  1. This is great to see this blog up and running. Have fun with it!

    So true about the names. There was a Russian Mennonite tradition, that if a child died in child-birth, the next child would be given the same name. So hard to understand in our present Canadian context.

    Mark D.H.

  2. Thanks Mark, it is fun i have a hard time deciding what to write about first.

    Yes! The more conservative Mennonites still do that in the Colony where I grew up.

  3. Thanks for this,Anna! I was always curious about this naming business. Your explanation opened my eyes to these naming traditions.


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