In order to understand Celtic baby names, you must first understand where they come from, and why. The Celtic heritage is a very rich one, and the names are meant to reflect that. If you are of Celtic ancestry, understanding the reasons behind those lovely names is the first step in choosing the right name for your baby.
Celtic is the language used by the Celts. The old language is considered dead by many, but the derivatives of it are still going strong. These include the Irish (called the Erse), the Scottish (called the Gaelic), the Cornish, the Manx, and the Welsh.
Scottish surnames are always divided between two categories: Those from the highlands and those from the lowlands. The Scottish highlanders gave their allegiance to Clans, and the title of the clan determined the surname of the person. Common surnames included Campbell, MacGregor, MacDonald, and Buchanan. Several surnames are now used as first names for the English, such as Ross or Stewart.
Welsh surnames are often derived from the names of ancestors. Examples include Meredith, Owen, Lewis, Pritchard, Powell, Williams, Ellis and Davis. The addition of extra letters at the beginning of a name, such as “ab" or “ap" to mean “Son of" became common enough that eventually, the words morphed into something altogether different. That's why someone with the initial name of Howell became ap Howell, which later turned into Phowell, which soon became Powell.
Finally, the Irish surnames are almost always recognizable, and for good reason. All the way back in 916, someone recorded the first Irish surname, and it began with an O. “O'Clery" was the first, and it was certainly not the last - even today, the presence of that O at the beginning of a name is a strong indication that the person is of Irish descent.
Obviously, the choice of Celtic baby names for your child will be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. It might also be one of the most time-consuming. If you are planning on using a Celtic name, it might be a good idea to go back through the history of your family to find the original names, and use a derivative of those, thus keeping the heritage alive through many generations. This takes time and patience, however, so start long before your baby arrives!
Many people will choose Celtic baby names because it ties their child to a history that is long in the past, but one that is still appreciated today. You can make the name as common as you like - Aaron is a Celtic name, and often appears on the top baby name lists - and so is Creyton, a name that isn't all that popular these days. The possibilities are endless and as unique as your own family.
Enjoy the search through your history, and congratulations on your choice to embrace your heritage with Celtic baby names!
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