Janis, Jānis

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Latvian
Meaning: “returner; walker.”

The name is most likely derived from the Latvian male name Jānis, which is used a the official Latvian cognate of John, but is actually of pre-Christian origins, being derived from the Latvian element jāt (to ride). The meaning of the name is in reference to the cosmic movement.

In Latvian mythology, it was borne by a major Latvian god, who was later syncrenized with St. John the Baptist. The major holiday of Jāņi (the Latvian Midsummer festival) usually takes place on June 24.

Currently, Janis is rather trendy in German-speaking countries. It is a mystery as to its recent popularity outside of Latvia. Its Franconized variant, Yanis, is currently the most popular male name in Luxembourg, (2010). Janis’ rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 32 (German-speaking, Switzerland 2010)
  • # 59 (Germany, 2011)