Alena

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Czech/German
(ah-LEH-nah)

The name has several possible derivations, the most popular being that it is a Czech contracted form of Magdalena or Helena. Other sources contend that it is derived from an archaic Russian diminutive form of Olga or Alexandra. It has even been suggested to be an earlier Czech feminine form of Alan

It is possible that it is derived from the Norman female name, Alenn, again, a form of Magdalena.

In Belarus, the name used as a form of Helen.

Currently, it is 226th most popular female name in Germany, (2011).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Alena (Belarusian/Croatian/Czech/German/Russian/Slovak/Slovene)
  • Aléna (Hungarian)
  • Alenka (Slovene)

In Czech and Slovak, Alenka is the diminutive form.

The name is borne by Czech supermodel Alena Šeredová Buffon (b.1978).

 

Olga

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Russian
Meaning: “holy”
(OLE-gah).

This harsh and rather under appreciated Russian classic is actually a Slavicized form of the equally unpopular Scandinavian name, Helga, which means, “holy.”

The name was first introduced into Eastern Europe around the 10th-century, thanks in part, to St. Olga of Kiev, (d. July 11 969).

St. Olga was a Russian woman of Viking descent who married Duke Igor of Kiev. When her husband died and her son Svytoslav was too young to rule, she was designated regent of the duchy. Olga was not a force to be reckoned with, when she first assumed the throne, she spent several years finding the killers of her husband and executing them. She is known for performing the first political reform in Eastern European history by changing the system of tribute gathering.

As an old woman, Olga had converted to Christianity and became one of the first Russian rulers to take on the new religion. She was known for her proselytizing and her hard work in converting her grandson, Vladimir of Kiev and some of her subjects. In fact, the Orthodox Church had proclaimed her an Equal-to-the-Apostles and her feast day is July 11.

The name is still popular throughout Eastern Europe.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Vol’ha Вольга (Belarusian)
  • Olga Ольга(Bulgarian/Croatian-Serbian/Czech/German/Hungarian/Macedonian/Polish/Portuguese/Romanian/Russian/Scandinavian/Slovene/Spanish)
  • Helle (Danish)
  • Helka (Finnish)
  • Oili (Finnish)
  • Olja (Finnish)
  • Helga (German/Danish/Icelandic/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Hella (German/Scandinavian)
  • Ólgha Όλγα (Greek)
  • Elga (Italian)
  • Hege (Norwegian)
  • Helgi (Old Norse)
  • Áile (Sami)
  • Láilá (Sami)
  • Ol’ga (Slovakian)
  • Ol’ha Ольга (Ukrainian)

Olya is the common Russian diminutive form.