When you think of Holland, what springs to mind? Windmills, wooden shoes, Delftware pottery? Me too, and also flowers; The Netherlands is a country of philosophers and painters, and a nation abloom with farms of lilies, Gerbera daisies, irises, and of course, tulips. It’s no surprise then, that the Dutch carry their love for flowers to baby names; the 2008 Dutch Top 20 features three flower names: Jasmijn (14), Fleur (15), and Iris (17). Can Tulip be far behind? Actually, that’s not so far fetched. Recently, actress Rebecca Romijn, the daughter of Dutch immigrants, gave birth to twins Dolly Rebecca Rose and Charlie Tamara Tulip.
Leave it to a Dutch person to till new soil in baby naming land. (I might add that Romijn didn’t just tiptoe through the well tread fields of Lilies and Violets, but she plucked an altogether new flower name for our consideration.)
Creativity, color, and chic abound in The Netherlands. Even their centuries-old baby welcoming traditions boast color and flair. In the 17th century, the “Muisjes” (Little Mice) tradition was born. When a baby was born, the new mother would receive sweets and food from the neighbors and family members who took care of her. As a thank-you to them, she and her husband would give the maternity visitors cookies iced with a buttery icing and sugar sprinkles, pink for a girl and white for a boy (today the boy sprinkles are blue). The sugary aniseed sprinkles are called Muisjes, as mice connote fertility.
Along with Romijn’s Tulip, other stars have gone Dutch with their children’s appellations. Matt Lauer and his Dutch wife, Annette Roque, named their third child Thijs (“Tice”), a variation of Matthew and a Top Ten baby name in The Netherlands. Marcia Gay Harden appointed her third child Julitta, a pretty, unusual Dutch spin on Julia. And Neve Campbell got her mother’s Dutch maiden name as a first name, and indeed the sleek sound makes it a winner.
One really nifty attribute of Dutch baby names is how you can makeover a common North American name—Christian, Luke, William—into a fresh ethnic tribute—Christiaan, Luuk, Willem—without a lot of fuss. Sure, the spellings are different, but not drastically so.
And for parents-to-be who want to go a bit more exotic, many Dutch names sound stylish and new to our ears but remain in that sweet spot of cool-and-novel without being out there. Some of my favorites in this category are Kees, Jander (a form of Alexander), and Hanson for boys, and Eliane, Sabine, and Schuyler for girls. Els (a form of Elizabeth), and Nel (a form of Helen) could hit two birds—ethnic and family tributes—with one stone, and also make wonderful short but sweet middle names.
Even some quintessential Dutch names are reasonably accessible, such as Sanne (“San-ah”), Saskia, and Tryne for girls, and Bastiaan, Klaas, and Bram.
More Dutch Baby Names:
Boys: Espen, Pim, Ruben, Milan, Marnix, Levin, Maxiaan, Ximon
Girls: Anneke, Amelie, Anouk, Mietta, Jonna (Jane), Sybella, Eveline, Madelief.