Gender: Feminine
Origin: Anglo-Saxon
Meaning: “sun gift”
Sunniva: (sun-NEE-vah); (SUN-nih-vuh); Synnove (sewn-NEW-veh) the Y is like a French U and the umlauted O is like the French eu.

The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon name, Sungifu, which is composed of the elements sun meaning, “sun” and gifu meaning, “gift.”

The name was attributed to an Irish princess and saint in the 1170 Norwegian work, (written in Latin), Acta sanctorum in Selio.

The book recounts the legend of St. Sunniva, who fled her native homeland in order to escape the advances of an unwanted suitor. She and her entourage ended up landing in what is now Selje Norway, where they took refuge in a cave. When the local inhabitants accused them of stealing sheep, it is said that rocks fell and miraculously closed off the cave to the angry inhabitants.

In 996, King Olaf Tryggvason excavated the cave where he found the body of the saint, (who had been dead hundreds of years), miraculously intact.

King Olaf designated her as the patron saint of the municipality of Selje. An abbey was built over the site of the cave.

Another legend attributed to her says that when fires ravashed the area of Bergen, between 1170-1 to 1198, the remains of the saint were taken from her reliquary and sat up in a sitting position, which miraculously stopped the spread of the fire.

As of 2010, its Faroese form of Sunneva was the 7th most popular female name in the Faroe Islands, while Sunniva was the 44th most popular female name in Norway, (2010).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Sungifu (Anglo-Saxon)
  • Synne (Norwegian/Danish: originally a diminutive, now used as an independent given name)
  • Sunneva (Faroese/Icelandic)
  • Sunnefa (Icelandic)
  • Sunníva (Icelandic)
  • Sunnifa (Middle Scandinavian)
  • Sunni (Norwegian)
  • Sunniva (Norwegian)
  • Synnev(a) (Norwegian)
  • Synøve/Synnøve (Norwegian)
  • Sönne (Swedish)
  • Synnöve (Swedish)

Possible nickname options include Sunny, Sunna, Sun or Neve or Niva.

In 2007, Sunniva was the 47th most popular female name.

The designated name-day is July 8th.

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