About Names: In honor of Mardi Gras, a primer on some more unusual names

Lisa Loring as Wednesday Addams

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 13th column, he looks at names associated with Mardi Gras and days of the week.

Tuesday, Feb. 13th, was the last day before Lent on the Christian calendar. Traditionally a day of revelry before Lent’s austerities begin, it has inspired Mardi Gras (French “Fat Tuesday”), the famed New Orleans parties and parades that began Jan. 6 and end Tuesday night. Mardi was regularly if rarely used as a girl’s name between 1936 and 2009. Model Mardee Hoff (1914-2004) started it off. In 1935, she won a contest for “most perfect figure in America.” Artist Norman Rockwell painted her for a 1936 “Saturday Evening Post” cover; she was later featured on the cover of “Life.”

English names for days of the week have also been used as first names or nicknames. Sunday, Monday, Friday and Saturday are English surnames, going back to medieval ancestors. Friday is the most common — men thought unlucky were nicknamed “Friday” no matter what day they were born. All the days of the week turn up as given names in censuses between 1850 and 1940. In the 19th century, most examples were African-American men. West Africa’s Akan culture traditionally named boys after days of the week. That custom occasionally survived among slaves and their descendants.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about “days of the week” names in history!