The rural Portuguese are very traditional and their choice in names is limited, usually a compulsory biblical name (José, João) then, if one’s parents were more imaginative, a couple of extras (Fernando or Carlos). Since there are so few surnames, a man is often given (and has to routinely use) all four of his names. However, we do know men with unusual ones. For example Melchior the architect, Baltazar the calçeteiro (cobble-layer), Joachim our neighbour, Americo the plumber, Anibal our roofer’s neighbour, Horatio who ran a café, two Nelson’s, and Jacinto the builder.

Maria is used for a boy’s second name or a girl’s first name, where it is commonly followed by the name the lady actually uses.   We have  friends with second-name Assumption, Ascension, Birth, Conception, Resurrection, Rosary, and Welcome. (Assunção, Ascenção, Nascimento, Conceição, Resurreição, Rosario and Benvinda). We know two Maria de Jesus’s, a Lourdes (site of virgin Mary’s appearance in France) and two Fatima’s (Mary’s appearance in Portugal).

So why this blog? Well, our daughter is imminently expecting her second child. Her son Dominic, aged five, has chosen its name – Marmalade or Frank. For himself he has decided Harley is the best name. We could do worse – Shadrak, Meshach or Abednigo, anyone?

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