Aino and Eetu top list of most popular children's names
In the early years of Finnish independence, Aino was among the most popular names given to girls, but by the time we had moved to the end of the 1960s, it had almost completely vanished from the map.
In last year’s statistics of the first names given to Finnish children, Aino bounced back to the top of the pile, nearly 80 years after its first boom period.
Back in 1917, Aino as a name was in its pomp, and more than 1,200 little girls were christened with this name each year.
By the early 1970s, the numbers had dwindled to a few dozens each year, according to Prof. Eero Kiviniemi from Helsinki University. Kiviniemi maintains the register of Finnish-language given names in the country. The Almanac Office of Helsinki University publishes an annual almanac containing Finnish name-days and public holidays and also including a list of the most popular names from the previous year.
Aino’s new and apparently irresistible rise dates from the end of the 1990s.
Last year there were more than 440 of them christened, and as such Aino easily beats out the previous year's top name Emma and the third-placed Sara, another rising star.
On the boys’ side, the top three names in 2006 were Eetu, Veeti, and Aleksi.
Names in the ascendant among the girls would appear to be Ninni, Alma, Kiira, and Kaisla, and among the boys there was increased support for Leo, Eino, Alex, and Pyry.
Among Swedish-speaking families, the names at the very top were unchanged from the previous year.
Emma again took top place in the girls and Emil in the boys. Emilia has moved into the runner-up spot on the girls’ side, while Julia and Elin vie for third place.
William has become the second most-popular boys’ name in Swedish-speaking circles, ahead of fast-rising Axel and old warhorse Anton.
The top ten are as follows:
Girls: Aino, Emma, Sara, Venla, Ella, Anni, Aada, Iida, Emilia, Helmi
Boys: Eetu, Veeti, Aleksi, Elias, Joona, Onni, Arttu, Leevi, Juho, Lauri
Girls (Swedish): Emma, Emilia, Julia, Elin, Ida, Wilma, Ellen, Ella, Sofia, Sara
Boys (Swedish): Emil, William, Axel, Anton, Robin, Oliver, Linus, Benjamin, Alexander, Rasmus.
The lists above differ somewhat from those at the Population Register Centre, which appear to include all forenames in their "first names" lists, including other than the first given name. Regardless of the recent popularity of names such as Aino or Eetu, they lag seriously behind the real heavy-hitters in Finnish naming: there are over 330,000 males in Finland who answer (more or less) to the name Juhani, and more than 350,000 girls and women who have Maria as one of their forenames. Aino, by contrast, can only boast about 65,000, and most of them are now quite elderly, since Aino's heyday as a name was between 1900 and 1939. The Population Register figures are slightly skewed in that they also carry the names of those who are deceased and still in the Register's Information System. One curiosity with regard to the Ainos is that until 1919 it was still - albeit rarely - used as a possible man's name. You can play with the frequency of your own name or any others at the Name Service site linked below. It is interesting to see, for instance, how certain names have been "a drug on the market" in one decade and have then almost completely vanished: Anneli (hugely popular in the 1940s and 1950s) is one striking example among girls' names, and Päivi (1960-79) is another.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Refusal of Finnish authorities to register forename ”Axl” brings claim for damages (7.9.2007)
Population Register Centre: Name Service