Don’t Name Your Kid Friday in Italy

19 Dec

Interesting article. Take a quick read. I’ll wait.

Ok, for those of you who are looking for the Cliff’s Notes version: an Italian court decided that a couple who named their child Friday had to change the name to something less “ridiculous or shameful.” When the couple refused, the court legally registered their son as Gregory.

Apparently there’s something in the administrative code that prohibits parents from aforementioned “ridiculous or shameful” names (who determines the ridiculousness or shamefulness is beyond me), but as the article rightfully mentions, this obscure law didn’t seem to hinder soccer star Francesco Totti and his wife when they (or rather, their other toddler son) named their newborn daughter Chanel. Same goes for the young Fiat vice-president Jaki Elkann and society wife Lavinia Borromeo when they decided to call their second son “Ocean” (first son is named “Lion”, so go figure).

Anyhoo, little baby Friday was renamed Gregory because, according to the article, “The tribunal said it was protecting the child from being the butt of jokes and added that it believed the name would hinder him from developing ‘serene interpersonal relationships.’ ”

I’m just a bit worried about what this might mean in terms of future “serene relationship” possibilities for little Apple (Paltrow) Martin. Maybe she can find companionship with a boy named Sincere, or a girl named Lexus.

Says Friday Germano’s mother: “I am livid about this. A court should not waste its time with things like this when there is so much more to worry about.”

Amen, sorella!



36 Responses to “Don’t Name Your Kid Friday in Italy”

  1. Martin December 19, 2007 at 5:13 pm #

    I saw this report yesterday. Putting aside the question whether “Friday” is a ridiculous or shameful” name ….. the sad thing about it is that had the poor parents Googled “Saint Friday”, they would have found that there actually is one. They could have argued that it IS a Christian name.

    St. Paraskevi (Greek for Friday) Photo of St Friday church (a pretty church in Romania)

  2. Enrico December 19, 2007 at 6:06 pm #

    Yes, Chanel…I guess we’re all equal, but some are more equal than others…

    Oceano, strange but true, is the name of a catholic saint, so it’s not considered “ridiculous or shameful”, and Leone is not very strange, it’s like Leo in English.

  3. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy December 19, 2007 at 6:07 pm #

    This intervention is ridiculous – what about all the people with last names that are much more damaging – you don’t see them intervening. Whose business is it??? Definitely not theirs.

  4. Dee December 19, 2007 at 6:46 pm #

    I heard about this Shelley. Good post. Remind me please, what’s offensive about Friday? Unique, yes; offensive, no. I’m sure we all agree that there are other “ridiculous or shameful” acts that people should worry about.

  5. finnyknits December 19, 2007 at 7:10 pm #

    Wow. That law would have changed the 80s in The States significantly. What would we have done without the Porsche’s and Mercedes’ and Summer’s?

    Frankly, I think the US needs this law more than Italy.

    Then our schools won’t fill up with Apples, Banjos, Moon Units (thank you Frank Zappa) and Satchel’s.

    How’d you like that? To be named after a bag? “Hi, My name is Drawstring Purse, how are you?”

  6. sognatrice December 19, 2007 at 7:20 pm #

    Saw this as well, and also read about it over at MB’s The Flavors of Abruzzo. As I mentioned there, the article I read actually said this:

    “The appeals court ruled against Friday because it recalled the servile savage in Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe and because superstitious Italians consider Friday an unlucky day.”

    which really adds a whole new dimension if you ask me.

    Crazy Eye-talians 😉

  7. Judith in Umbria December 19, 2007 at 7:55 pm #

    How come those watchdogs aren’t on the road when I am being tailgated? Or in the market when the vendors hand off French francs instead of euro coins?

    Just today I listened to an interview with an actress whose last name means roundhead.

  8. Mrs.W December 19, 2007 at 9:33 pm #

    Certainly a ridiculous waste of time… no government should delve this deeply into private matters.

  9. Shelley, At Home in Rome December 19, 2007 at 9:47 pm #

    Enrico: You’re right, I forgot to mention that about Ocean… I had read that in an article and meant to put it in, for fairness’s sake. And I like translating Leone to Lion, but I’ll take it from you if it’s more like “Leo” (as the zodiac sign translates)… we also have Leon in the States so I guess I can’t give the Elkanns too hard of a time over it. I’m really just jealous that Lavinia’s family owns those islands.

    Sara: What are some of the last names you’ve heard? I can’t think of any off the top of my head but I know there are some crazy ones out there.

    Dee: Agreed!

    Fin: Satchel, that’s lovely, you’ve got a good cross-section picked out here. The Zappas definitely would have been hit hard by this law.

    Sognatrice: Thanks for the cross-reference, I didn’t know about the Abruzzo blog. The Yahoo article I found had the same quote… I never would have thought about Robinson Crusoe, but that’s probably why I don’t work in the Italian justice system… apparently that’s the type of thing they’re trained to look out for. And about the superstition…so what if someone wanted to call their kid Friday and give the middle name Seventeen? Yikes. That would probably get them expelled from the country or thrown into jail.

    Judith: French francs instead of Euros? That’s a new one for me! Where do they find them? What was the last name… testarotonda? Just a guess.

    Mrs. W: I agree totally, seems like they should be dealing with other more pressing matters. Why should the State care what a couple decides to name their kid? If anything, family members could intervene to try to convince them otherwise, but I hardly see how/why the courts need to get involved. So, the kid gets teased. Hardly seems a matter for the Italian justice system. Then again, this *might* explain why there’s a several year backlog in most cases…Ale had a case the other day that’s been going on for years and this was supposed to be the last hearing… the judge didn’t show up because he had the flu… and the final hearing was postponed until April. Ale thought, God, April, that’s a long time to wait just for a judge who has the flu. Then came the real zinger: April, yes. But the year? 2009.

  10. Enrico December 19, 2007 at 10:20 pm #

    The thing that kind of bothers me is that sometimes the Judge applies the law, sometimes not. For example I met a guy named Robinud. (BTW guess who the parents wanted to name the kid after? A little tip: it has to do with robbing the rich to provide for the poor)

  11. Janavi December 19, 2007 at 10:41 pm #

    I know a girl named Buick-she’s a real piece of work,but I don’t know if the name has anything to do with it.Maybe growingup with parents who would name a child Buick would screw you up.

  12. nyc/caribbean ragazza December 20, 2007 at 4:35 am #

    The state should not intervene. However, some of these parents need to be hit upside the head. Pilot Inspecktor? WTF? Yes that is the name Jason Lee gave his kid. Or Nic Cage naming his son after Superman’s Kryptonian name, Kal-el? Do these parents even think about how the kid night feel about these names?

    Their narcissim is out of control.

    A former co-worker has a son named Ocean. It’s a big name out here in LaLa land.

  13. kataroma December 20, 2007 at 10:06 am #

    What I find amazing is that the court just randomly decided to assign the kid a new name – a saint’s name no less! So now the court enforces both conformity and Christianity.

    30 years ago in Italy you weren’t even allowed to call your kids “foreign” names. So a half Australian, half Italian friend of mine’s mother wanted to call her Jean (after her mother) but that was not allowed so she had to put Gina on the birth certificate. So glad that law has changed.

  14. Robert December 20, 2007 at 10:14 am #

    What about the likes of Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lily? The daughter of Michael Hutchence and…I forget her name… And most of Bob Geldofs brood have wierd names too – Peaches is one that comes to mind. Then there are the Beckhams…

    I think it is silly really, assuming the child had the English ‘Friday’ it would mean very little to Italians, just sound odd.

    Sure, where I grew up people always gave their kids odd names. I even knew a bloke called Lucifer (and, no jokes, he was the Fire Warden in the division of the nuclear power plant I worked in – honestly, I think he got the position because of his name…).

  15. Jeff December 20, 2007 at 10:30 am #

    I wonder if “seven” is ok. I always thought that was funny on Seinfeld when George thought of naming his first child “seven”.

  16. Alice December 20, 2007 at 10:50 am #

    I imagined this issue would come up in your blog, even if I am a new reader of yours… 🙂
    I was sure this would strike an American as an Italian oddity.
    On the other side, I’m sure you already know that while an American thinks no government should delve this deeply into private matters (as someone said before), the great majority of Italians think that naming your child River, Leaf, Rainbow, Satchel, Hunter, Fox is just ludicrous.
    Un’americanata, let’s say, to use a word I don’t like very much, but that is.
    I think it’s just a matter of cultural differences here. There are things you consider absolutely normal, but for some reason, they’re not so everywhere. This is why I love having foerign friends, it broadens your horizons. 🙂

    As regards me, I think Ocean and Chanel are as ridiculous as Venerdì and Varenne (remember that couple that named their child after the famous horse?) but as someone else said before, some are more equal than others.

    A note: Mercedes is a Christian name. Merced in Spanish means mercy. There’s a Madonna who’s called Nuestra senora de las mercedes, or Virgen de las Mercedes.

  17. anna l'americana December 20, 2007 at 1:38 pm #

    What about the Oscar-winning actress who voiced over “The Excorcist (among other works) – Mercedes McCambridge?
    If you are Italian and want your child to be named after anything other than a Saint (and apparently only certain Saints – as Martin points out above) I guess you need to run to Switzerland to give birth and record the birth certificate. This may not be a bad idea anyway (for many reasons!). I read somewhere recently that there were no beds in obstetrics available (that may have been just in Rome) and if you had to give birth you needed to wait 3-4 months – what are you supposed to do? Hold it in as if waiting to find a place to pee?
    The problem is that we are applying American logic to an Italian situation – this will always result in the wrong answer, believe me, I learned this the hard way. Will also result in a lot of head shaking and the comment “Americani pazzi……” YET AGAIN.
    But it is perfectly OK to name your kids Primo and Secondo….!!!!!
    You see how logic doesn’t work?

  18. Francesca December 20, 2007 at 4:18 pm #

    And you wonder why there are so many taxes (alla tv taxes) – only in Italy!

  19. nicki December 21, 2007 at 3:09 pm #

    When I told the nurses what I wanted to call my daughter they advised me that ‘something normal like Francesca would be better.” I ignored them, luckily it didn’t get taken any further. What really annoyed me was that I wasn’t allowed to give her my surname.

  20. Andrea December 21, 2007 at 4:34 pm #

    I think that is just Ridiculous!! Who is to say if a name is wrong or not?? I am in the states and maybe I think the name Francessco is stupid. My name is Andrea, like Andrea Bocelli, but I am a female. When I move to Italy, am I going to have to change my name for fear I will be recognized as a male?? So stupid!

  21. Adrienne December 22, 2007 at 3:52 am #

    I think they should of been allowed to name their child Friday. Maybe Tuesday Weld and Wednesday from the Adam’s Family should picket in Italy!

  22. Maryann December 22, 2007 at 4:46 am #

    I wonder what the birth name of the person who caught this is? haha. They must have been taunted as a child 🙂 “Friday” is cool with me.

  23. ilva December 22, 2007 at 10:26 am #

    I have to say that I see it the other way round, why the heck does all these parents have come up with silly names at all? This fashion of giving your children quaint names is sooo boring and even though I agree that it’s not the court’s role to name children and we should be free to call our children what we want, I feel pity for these children with names with out any real connection to names in general. Just shows the parents wish to stand out of the crowd I think.

  24. J.Doe December 22, 2007 at 3:36 pm #

    I’m living in the US but have family members in Italy. I chose an Italian name for my baby. All the other Americans I meet think it’s beautiful. I seriously wonder though if I picked a standard American name if I would get that response in Italy.

  25. jessica December 23, 2007 at 11:33 pm #

    stopping in to wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful 2008!

  26. Buda Baby December 29, 2007 at 2:12 pm #

    I love that this topic generated so much discussion! In Hungary there is an official book of names and you must choose a name for your baby from that book. Apparently, if one of the parents or grandparents is foreign-born, they will make an exception and you can choose a name from that culture. I can kind of understand it here though because Hungary has lost its culture to others throughout history; people are very keen to retain their culture. Still, it seems like everyone picks the same five names for their kids even though the official book has thousands of names.

  27. Alice January 2, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    Came back and found out there were new responses to this post… 🙂
    By the way, Andrea, I have always found amusing that a name which means “man” (anér-andròs in Ancient Greek means just that, and the name comes just from Greek) is used almost everywhere as a female name.
    I’ve always wondered how it could happen… perhaps because it ends with an “a”?

  28. wn January 3, 2008 at 1:20 pm #

    Not only in Italy, at least Finland (and I suspect other Scandinavian countries too) screen the given names. Priests may refuse to baptize children with inappropriate names and registry can also veto names. In practice you get to name your child pretty much whatever you want, and I have to say I don’t think that the practice was a bad thing in stricter times either.

    As for “it’s none of their business”, well, it is not the parents’ business only either, since the child cannot make the decision yet. The society protects children from their stupid or abusive parents in other ways also and no-one usually has a problem with that.

  29. a nice latin name January 9, 2008 at 4:46 am #

    Portugal does this as well. As far as I know, the child’s name must be one of an approved list, unless the parents are both foreign (e.g., I don’t think they will force Chinese parents to name their son Joao), although it cannot use a non-Roman alphabet. A bit too big brother if you ask me, but I am American after all. 🙂

  30. Rachele January 12, 2008 at 9:13 pm #

    WoW! this is amazing….i really had no idea that the Italian govt. would really go to measures to rule against the parents choice of names. And you made a great point about Francesco Totti and Ilary naming their daughter Chanel. I thought I was going to die laughing. Come on, if the govt. feels like protecting its people, please… clear outthe Gypsy camp near corso francia or the guy that robbed a woman i saw near ponte Milvio. But, we hear of these rediculous,single events happing every now and again. Brings me back to my comment about the truckers strike and feeling like…..”Am I stuck in the twilight zone?”…..Who does that?????

  31. Rachele January 12, 2008 at 9:19 pm #

    Wait…..did they actually name it FRIDAY or Venerdì?????

  32. DiscoverSoriano January 17, 2008 at 5:27 pm #

    This makes me think back to 7th grade when there was a girl in my class named (and I’m not kidding) Krystal Chandelier.


  33. Dina January 22, 2008 at 10:12 pm #

    NOT SO ridiculous! Maybe stupid and self-centered!

    As an Italian, I agree with the court’s decision.
    His name would have been “Venerdi” to all the people that who said….”that’s SOOO RIDICULOUS!!!

    Not as ridiculous as the sound of that name and the years or RIDICULING that child would have to put up with into his adult life. I SAY that the parents are RIDICULOUS…with all the beautiful Italian names to pick from!

  34. Lorna April 11, 2008 at 7:54 am #

    You people have a lot to say on this subject and even though I have read several comments by Americans criticising their own countrymen for newer and unusual names, some of your “more normal older” names sound silly to us Brits. Names like Chad and Chuck and Parker and BUBBA !

  35. Max November 16, 2008 at 2:10 am #

    What is there to ridicule about Friday.. Really though how would someone named that get harassed. I will admit its not a normal name for a person. I just don’t see how it would be bad for someone growing up with that name. Hey you name of the week boy, but I don’t know maybe Italy just has a lot of douche bags who would stoop soo low to find away to tease someone or ridicule them about having the name of Friday.

  36. Melanie April 29, 2009 at 4:59 am #

    Honestly?!?! PPL?!?! Friday is a BEAUTIFUL name.
    Whats so wrong with it?
    y is that kid going to be made fun of?
    Because of people like you who refuse to except other people just because of something thats… unique!

    Lets just all get along and enjoy what we have. My name is melanie, and for years i was made fun of by being called melon, because it was the 1st part of my name, but i was Strong and then people just left me alone. The people who had never called me melon though, were the people who were my true friends, because my parents succeeded at making me a good person

    I say its just all a form of teaching your child to be strong. How the parents raise this child, i dont know, but this name could give the child a whole lot of inner-strength.

    Have many forgotten that what doesnt kill us makes us stronger?

    if the parents succeed at raising this child to be a strong brave kid, no one will make fun of it.

    if not, well either way its gonna learn to suck it up. if the parents didnt do a good job at raising it, then obviously its not the name, its probably the personality. People will just find any way to hurt you.

    My parents raised me well, gave me a beautiful name, but sadly it was a way to laugh at me, but all their hardwork paid off. now im happy and get compliments on my name all the time :). i actually wanted to name my kid Friday, or April, or October.

    Is it so wrong to make a child stronger and unique?

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