One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Sacred Naming Ceremony

Several months ago I wrote an entry about the music that Annika adored in her first few years of life (including a link to the rare sight of Jörg dancing). I decided that I wanted to reference examples to some of the less well-known music, and thought 5-10 seconds of each song would suffice to get the idea across without worrying about entering the murky area of (free) internet music downloading. However, I really wanted to put up an entire verse from Sara Hickman's rendition of "You are My Sunshine," and that ran to 30 seconds or so, which left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. So what do you do in the internet age? Why, you google the artist to see if you can come up with some contact info. It turns out that Sara Hickman has a blog, as well as a published email address. So I dropped her a note, asking if what I wanted to do with her song was OK. Much to my surprise, she replied almost immediately, and was gracious in the extreme. Well, I wasn't surprised about the gracious part, but about the immediate, in-person reply. Even more to my surprise, she replied to my "thank-you" email, asking about the name "Annika," as she has a similarly named friend (Anika). We exchanged a few emails, and she even agreed to judge a photo-caption contest I ran a few months back. Her question about the names, though, inspired a rather long reply: I think Annika as a name is gaining somewhat in popularity, as I have now heard of several little Annika's under the age of 5 or so. Your friend, Anika (26! Oh, I love knowing women that age--old enough to have real conversations with, but young enough to be experiencing so much for the first time, and exploring life in a way that you just don't once you're married with kids. At least, that's me...), has the spelling traditional to Spanish or Hindu. We have the spelling from Sweden. It's basically the Scandinavian version of Ann. My husband is German, so we were looking for a name that worked both in English and in German. Of course, there's lots of overlap in the names of the two countries, but usually the name is pronounced quite differently in the 2 languages ("Katherine" vs. "Katarina", for example). I, personally, didn't see that as a big problem, but my husband, always one for living an orderly life, wanted the name to sound good and be pronounced the same way in both languages. This made the naming task nigh impossible. Finally, 8 months pregnant, we were sitting together on the couch watching Law and Order, and one of the minor characters was from Germany and named Annika. So I said, "OK, so what about that?" And he said, "OK." And that was it. As to the meaning, I think it's "graceful." The meaning that I do remember, and liked very much, is that Annika is very close to a Hausa name (Nigerian language--"Annikiye") meaning "sweet faced." My name was invented in order to name me after my father, despite not being a boy. My dad's middle name is Morris, so my mom just took the first syllable and then girly-fied it. It turns out that it is pronounced similarly to a name common in the Slavic world meaning, "Of the sea." Of course I have never even lived within 600 miles of any sea. Unless you count Chicago's Lake Michigan, but that's still 150 miles away. I mostly call my daughter "Anni" (with the "A" pronounced "Ah"), while my husband usually goes for the full "Annika". This led her at one point to start calling him "Daddy-ka," which I thought was a very cool peek into the world of how kids figure out how to work with words (that they are made up of parts that you can rearrange and reuse--an insight that most adults don't even consciously make). It was also great because the -ka can be used as a suffix to show affection in Hungarian, so Daddy-ka actually made perfect sense from that language's point of view. Our second daughter is named Franciska, again a name that works both in German and English, although it is a bit old-fashioned sounding in English. However, I agreed to the name because I realized I could call her "Frankie," which I've always loved. Especially since my two girls are now "Frankie and Anni," a little musical joke ("Frankie and Johnny") that I stopped telling because, apparently, noone else thought it was amusing. She wrote back, although obviously I won't quote here, with a lovely story about naming her own two girls, which involved a big car and the voice of God. To which I replied, in part: I had to laugh at myself a bit when reading your reply--you heard the voice of God giving you names, while I heard the voice of Jerry Orbach (may he rest in peace). That just about sums it up for me. I did not hear back from her again. I think maybe that you are not supposed to make light of the hand of God in the sacred naming ceremony. But, man, she sure is great. My girls are still in love with her kids' CDs.


Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Oooo, I like Moreena as a solution for the problem of "Morris." One of my cousins used "Morgan" as a middle name for a girl, as homage to my grandpa Morris, but Moreena is far more beautiful.

We know one little Annika, but her mom is German.

7/13/2005 9:57 AM  
Blogger liz said...

Cool story!

7/13/2005 10:34 AM  
Blogger Running2Ks said...

Her name is beautiful. And I love love love love love the Daddy-ka!

7/13/2005 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Andrea said...

I had no idea that our daughter's names were so similar! My FIL is always reminding us that his grandmother was named Francesca (they are Swiss) and, while this was accidental, it is cool to think she is a namesake of someone.

7/13/2005 1:45 PM  
Blogger ocelot said...

I love Daddy-ka! Maybe Gizmo will call me Daddy-mo one day.

We had a blast researching names... though we did a lot better with girls names. When we found out he was a boy, we settled on Aidan, thinking it was all unique and all, but then started hearing the name EVERYWHERE! Maybe just our extended circle of aquaintances.

We were in limbo for a while, then despite all our methodical research, kinda stumbled accidently onto Gizmo, and it stuck hard and fast.
year/rank of Annika
2004 325
2003 283
2002 346
2001 362
2000 445
1999 470
1998 472
1997 492
1996 667
1995 968

Awesome that you got a response from the artist! There's so many legal issues with material these days, it's killing creativity and even aspects of casual existance. I heard they had to digitally remove the transamerica building out of a background scene in Bewitched due to its being trademarked. Please don't tell anyone i said "transamerica building"!

7/13/2005 3:52 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

I know an Annika, late 20s, no German at all. What a great story though.

7/13/2005 4:18 PM  
Blogger Rory Kearn said...

I love reading your blog. That's great that you got such a response from an artist. And don't worry about making light of the hand of God. Jerry Orbach is akin to God in my opinion. He was Baby's dad in Dirty Dancing. LOL.


7/13/2005 5:59 PM  
Blogger Rowan said...

I love the name Annika. This was one of the names that was in the top three for Kajsa (Ki-sah). Unfortunately, my husband was one of those people who rhymes all names just to prove that someone else might someday do so. So Annika became Hanukah. Anika became a Skywalker. So, against my wishes, I conceded and we scrapped the name Annika for our baby.
Lo and behold, 2 hours after she was born, in walks my husband's best friend who proceeds to call her Kajsa Sose. (If this means nothing to you, review The Usual Suspects.)
Oh well. I’m happy we went with Kajsa, but I still love Annika…perhaps if we have another baby, someday.
Oh, and I, too think the whole daddy-ka thing is great!!

7/14/2005 1:45 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I like the daddy-ka part. Anna has been adding a y at the end of everything latley, except for things already ending in a y (she hasn't figured out what to do with those yet. ) So, Papa, is now Papy, Grama, Gramy. The grandparents love it of course, but it gets a little old for us.

7/15/2005 10:48 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Very cool, Moreena.

I, too, know and Annika who is probably three or so now.

7/15/2005 11:11 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

If there's a debate about what the voice of God sounds like, I'm totally on your side of it, since I once heard the voice of God as Danny Aiello.

Also, congrats on the happiness. Long time no see.

7/15/2005 12:29 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Oh, and have you seen the Babyname Voyager?

It's at and very worth a click if you want to see real data on the popularity of names in the US over time.

7/15/2005 12:32 PM  
Blogger ocelot said...

OMG! That's the coolest site ever!

7/15/2005 3:26 PM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Andrea - Yes, I had noticed that our daughters' names were similar, as well as being near the same age. Actually, lots of people who see it written still pronounce her name "Francesca" (with the "ch" sound and "eh" as the vowel), rather than "Franciska" (with an "s" sound in the middle and "i" as the vowel). Annika's taken to calling her "Franco," which works with her dictatorial personality of late.

7/15/2005 9:57 PM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Ocelot - I have to confess that I thought Gizmo was the pseudonym you'd chosen. That is so cool that it is his actual name, if I'm reading you right. Thanks for the data. I'm actually surprised that it's not increasing more in popularity...

7/15/2005 9:59 PM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Rowan - she already has a friend that calls her "Hannukah"! Anni is fine with it, as she regularly confuses names herself. I think "Kajse Sose" is pretty fantastic as a nickname, actually.

7/15/2005 10:03 PM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Mike - Holy Smokes! What a long time! I headed over to your website for a looky around and it seems you've been up to an awful lot. Well, of course. OK, so how did you find me? Accident? Or a boredom search through the internet?

7/15/2005 10:05 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Slow day at work, and you have an eminently Googleable name.

7/18/2005 9:12 AM  
Blogger PPB said...

I love Daddyka, too.

7/18/2005 10:49 AM  
Blogger ocelot said...

Ah, apologies for being misleading. I'm full on in internet guise. If Gizmo were to affix the ending of his REAL name to me, i'd be Daddy-Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

7/18/2005 12:44 PM  
Blogger ocelot said...

Yeah, it fell off the end of his birth certificate too.

7/18/2005 12:45 PM  
Blogger Annika said...

Hello! I found your site while, um, googling myself. So embarrassing.

Annika means "little Anne" and Anne means "grace" so I have always told people that my name means I have little grace.

I have also heard that the translation doesn't quite capture the meaning, which is closer to "Anne my love." My parents sometimes spell it "Anneke" which is Dutch and I think has a slightly different meaning.

It's a good name, I think. (By the way, I am 27 and was named for a Swedish ballerina and the neighbor from Pippi Longstocking.)

7/19/2005 2:13 PM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Lovely to meet you. And what a lovely website you have over there. It's nice to know that the other Annika's out there in the world are so smart and cool and beautiful. Your "little grace" line is wonderful.

7/20/2005 10:09 PM  
Blogger Tara Marie said...

Moreena, I think I shared with you the first time I contacted you via 'Postcards' that we had a daughter named Annika Leigh [that is why my user name is the same] and I have to agree with you,,,it is a beautiful name.

Our baby naming was similar to yours, looking for names based on our heritage [mine Swedish and Irish, my dh German and Swiss]. Hence we have Katrina, Greta, Otto and Emma Sage [OK, so Sage came from my love of gardening, but Emma was my mil middle name and a family name].

I do have a friend who was the 7th girl in her family [no boys] her name is RON-elle! Can you guess what her fathers name was! lol!

Peace, Tara Marie

7/21/2005 9:10 PM  
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10/01/2005 6:28 PM  

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