Pinja

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Estonian/Finnish
Meaning: “pine.”

The name is derived from the Finnish word for a species of pine tree known as pinus pinea. This might be the perfect autumnal name. Its designate name-day is October 6.

As of 2011, Pinja was the 35th most popular female name in Finland.

Helmi

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Finnish/Estonian
Meaning: “pearl”
(HEL-mee)

The name was originally a diminutive form of the name Vilhelmiina, but later became an independent name in Finland due to its coincidental meaning of “pearl,” in Finnish. The pronunciation could be heard here: http://www.forvo.com/word/helmi/

As of 2011, Helmi was the 11th most popular female name among Finnish speakers in Finland.

The designated name-day in Finland and Estonia is May 7th. In Sweden, it is April 6th.

Meri

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Finnish/Estonian
Meaning: “the sea.”
(MEH-ree). Pronunciation can be heard here: http://www.forvo.com/word/meri/

The name comes directly from the Finnish and Estonian word for the sea, but it is also speculated that it may have originally been used as an alternative for Maria. As of 2008, approximately 5521 women in Finland bore the name Meri. There is also a popular compound form, which is Meri-Tuuli, literally meaning “sea wind.” The designated name-day in Finland is December 3, while in Estonia, it is April 22nd.

Kyllikki, Kylli

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Finnish
Meaning: “woman.”
Pronunciation can be heard here: http://www.forvo.com/search/Kyllikki/

The name is derived from an old Finnish word for woman and was popularized through the Finnish national epic the Kalevala, in which there is a prominent female character of the same name (featured left). It is considered a “revived” name from the National Romantic Movement in Finland, and was officially placed in the Finnish national calender in 1905, before that, she was found in the Finnish Public Awareness Society’s calender as early as 1882.

JR Apselin was the first known person in contemporary times to bestow the name upon his daughter, Aino Aura Kyllikki, the same year the name appeared in the official calender. Thereafter, Kyllikki spiked in popularity and peaked between the 1920s and 1930s as the most popular feminine name in Finland. The name was the inspiration of a Sibelius song of the same name.

There are Estonian forms, which are: Külli, Küllike and Külliki.

Their designated name-day is December 8, and currently, approximately 67 363 women in Finland bear the name Kyllikki (2008).

Ursula

ursulaBritishMuseumGender: Feminine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “little she-bear; she-cub; little female bear.”
Eng (ERS-uh-LAH)

The name is of Latin origin but is suggested that is may be a latinization of the old Germanic female name Yrsa meaning “bear” and was popularized by a medieval Christian saint said to be martyred in Cologne. Not much is known about the saint, other that she was martyred under Huns along with 11,000 other virgins, which is now believed to be a misprint from the written source of the legend. What is known for sure is that there was a basilica built in honour of a virgin Christian martyr in Cologne and from this arose several different legends referring to a St. Ursula and St. Cordula. According to the legend, St. Ursula was a British princess who was sent by her father to Germany to marry a prince, along with her, were sent 11,000 maidens, however,  her ship was taken off course due to a storm and instead ended up in France where she then decided to do a pan-European Christian pilgramage before meeting her future husband. She made a pilgramage to Rome where she tried to pursuade the pope to do a pilgramage with her and her 11,ooo companions. When she reached cologne she and her companions were massacred by the Huns.

The legend is based off of a 4th century inscription written in the Basilica which was built in the saint’s honour. It is believed that the 11,ooo handmaidens was confused with a female martyr named Undecimilia, Undecimila or Xemilia and that the abbreviation XI.M.V was misread as a number. The same saint has also been referred to under the names Pinnosa or Vinnosa. The name was quite prevalent in Great Britain before the Reformation and went out of usage afterwards. The name is also borne by Swiss actress Ursula Andress (b. 1936). It has also appeared in popular culture as the name of the evil sea-witch in Disney’s the Little Mermaid and as the name of the wife of Nigellus Phineas Black in the Harry Potter Series.

In Poland, the name is associated with a great piece of Polish Literature written by Jan Kochanowski. Known as Laments (Treny) 1580, they are a series of 19 elegies which talk about the author’s grief after the death of his two and half year old daughter Orszola (Urzula) which he refers to as the Slavic Sappho.

Other forms of the name are (divided alphabetically by nationality):

  • Orsula (Corsican)
  • Uršula (Croatian/Czech/Slovakian/Slovenian)
  • Yrsa (Danish/Faroese/Icelandic/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Orsel (Dutch)
  • Ursule/Ursuline (French)
  • Ursula/Ursel (German/Dutch/Estonian/Finnish/Spanish: German diminutive forms are Ulla, Uli and Uschi)
  • Orsolya (Hungarian: or-SHOH-lah was the 56th most popular female name in Hungary in 2006)
  • Úrsúla (Icelandic)
  • Orsina/Orsola/Orsolina (Italian)
  • Ursa (Latin)
  • Urzula (Latvian)
  • Uršulė (Lithuanian)
  • Urszula/Orszola/Warszula (Polish: Latter two forms are older forms and are rarely used. Diminutive form is Ula and Urszulka. Older diminutive forms are Ulicha and Ulita)
  • Úrsula (Portuguese)
  • Ursetta/Ursina/Urschla (Romansch)
  • Urška (Slovenian: originally a diminutive now used as an independent given name, it was the 51st most popular female name in Slovenia in 2005)
  • Orscheli (Swiss-German: ORSH-lee)

There are a few male equivalents which include:

  • Orso/Orsino/Ursio/Ursino (Italian)
  • Urs (German)
  • Ursinus/Ursus (Latin)
  • Ursyn/Ursycjusz (Polish: very rare)
  • Ursin/Urosin (Romansch)

Tähte, Tähti

Sagittarius_Star_CloudGender: Feminine
Origin: Estonian/Finnish
Meaning: “star”
(TAT-eh; Tæ-tee) Finnish pronunciation can be heard here: http://www.forvo.com/word/tähti/

In Estonian Tähte is the Estonian word for star while Tähti is the Finnish. In Estonia, the designated name-day is October 19. In Finland, the name is not common.

Vesta

522px-Pompejanischer_Maler_um_80_v._Chr._001Gender: Feminine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “hearth; fireside.”
(VES-tah)

The name is borne in Roman mythology by the goddess of the hearth, home and family. Not much is really known about her as she is not mentioned in any myths, but it is believed that she was a leftover ancient Etruscan goddess and it has been suggested that she actually had no relation with the Greek goddess Hestia as is popularly believed.

It is believed that the name is derived from the Greek Hestia which means “hearth; fireside.” In ancient Rome, the Vestals were women who took a vow of chastity for 30 years in order to keep the fire of the goddess kindled. It is said that if they broke their vow of chastity, they would be severely punished by being buried alive. In ancient Rome there was also a yearly festival called the Vestalia dedicated to the goddess, it usually occurred between June 7-15.

In Europe, its designated name-day is October 17. Another form of the name is the Estonian Veste. Italian forms are Vestia and Vestina. There is a Polish form: Westyna.