Name for Christmas

Christmas meebs

Shakespeare famously asked, 'What's in a name?' Ariel wonders the same thing as the holiday season gallops towards us like a fleet of flying reindeer.

With a little army of elves to help us (or what's more prosaically called the internet), we tracked down people who had names that could be interpreted as festive. A few of them - an Angel, two Gabriels, a Jesus, two Hollys, a Carol, an Emmanuel and a Noel - talk about the significance of their names and whether they were Christmas babies.

Angel Peche, director of finance and operations, Miami
Angel Peche Angel Peche likes to relax in his Costa Rican backyard. Yes, that's really it behind him....

I was born on Friday 13 August after a full moon, at 7am, when the sun was coming up. Family story has it that, after two days of labour, I came into this world with my eyes open. My grandmother, a wise woman and devout Catholic, upon witnessing my birth, said that I was an angel come upon this earth and as such I should be named. My mother agreed and the person responsible for registering the birth in hospital wrote my name as Angel Antonio.

My father - an atheist with a scientific mind of his own - and the proud bearer of the male family tradition of being named Antonio (after my grandfather and great-grandfather), was working in the interior part of Venezuela when I was born. When he arrived at the hospital he heard how I had been named by his mother, and he literally went berserk.

He tried to change it, to no avail. To this day, and in respect of my father's wish, I am known only as Antonio within my family; everyone else knows me as Angel. I feel I am completely and utterly like a Jekyll and Hyde - a good Angel and a naughty Antonio.

For every single school play, more so while attending primary school in England, I was almost always assigned the role of an angel, so got used to the feathers and white cloths. I believe names tend to somehow define who we are - living up to being named Angel has not been easy, but I dare say I have managed it, as I help and support far more than I am helped and supported.

Holly Green Holly Green has more affiliation with the Easter Bunny
Holly Green, newsgathering, BBC News

My birthday is in April so I can't even claim that I was conceived as a Christmas blessing! I have to accept I have more affiliation with the Easter Bunny. I just typed my name into an online website that claimed to generate your 'Easter Bunny' name and (honestly) mine came up as Puddles Fluffycakes. I'll stick with Holly Green, I think.

I'm pretty sure my parents didn't name me in the same way that the Beckhams named Brooklyn. At least I hope not - Holly Green is a housing development in Burton-on-Trent. I could also have taken the surname 'Potter' from the other side of the family which, these days, would make me sound like I was related to the World's Most Famous Wizard.

My name did once lead to being cast as a piece of festive vegetation in my school nativity play. It was a non-speaking part and a tragic waste of my prodigious acting talents. But I love Christmas - turkey, snow and presents. And spending time with my family, of course. It's definitely my favourite Holly-day.

Holly Redfern, sales operations assistant, BBC Worldwide
Holly Redfern Holly Redfern was almost called Erin

I was born on 25 June, so exactly six months after or before Christmas, depending on your point of view. I was originally going to be an Erin but then when I was born my mother decided she liked the name Holly.

The name still gets remarked upon around Christmas, usually while singing The Holly and the Ivy or Deck the Halls with boughs of Holly.... And I'm always asked if I'm a Christmas baby.

I love Christmas because I'm a Christian and it has a lot of meaning for me. Also (sadly) it's the only time of year when most people make an effort be a little kind to others, and of course there's the festivities.

Gabriel Gatehouse, East Africa correspondent

I was born in April so more of an Easter baby, by which time the Angel G had kind of done his bit. My dad is a huge Thomas Hardy fan, so in fact I think I'm named after Gabriel Oak, the romantic shepherd from Far From the Madding Crowd.

I do love Christmas, because I spend a lot of time away from my family, so Christmas is a time to spend it together. I live in Nairobi because I'm the East Africa correspondent for BBC News. My wife, however, lives in London, so we spend a lot of time apart. This year we will be spending Christmas and New Year in France with my parents and my brother.

Gabriel O'Rorke, newsgathering, BBC News

I'm a November baby. My sister is called Raphaela, so we both have angelic (and somewhat embarrassing during childhood) names. My mother says she named me after a painting of a little child called Gabriel riding a pony. I am still to meet another girl who spells it my way...

My name also means that I became a seasoned Angel Gabriel in nativity plays.

I love Christmas and usually spend it in Scotland with my family. In the New Year I am moving to Santiago, Chile, so next Christmas most probably won't be white...

Noel Thompson, SBJ, Belfast

I was born on December 9. My two older brothers were born in July so my folks marked the change in season with my name. When my young brother came along, he, too, was a July baby. If I had a penny for every time someone has said 'Oh, that's your carol!' about The First 'Nowell', I would be a rich man.

I'm a bit of a Bah Humbug merchant. I would gladly spend Christmas with closest family in a Swiss alpine retreat or a Caribbean island, away from it all. My wife, however, is Santazilla, so I'm up to my armpits in the usual paraphernalia. I always say to myself, Next year we'll do it my way, but it never happens!

Emmanuel Wabeke Emmanuel says his name has affected his life
Emmanuel Wabeke, web/graphic officer, Nigeria

The story behind my name is that my parents wanted a female child after giving birth to a boy. Unfortunately, they got a boy again and they now said that this child belongs to God. So they named me Emmanuel (God with us).

My name has really affected my life. Right from when I was young and in school, I've been a leader: captain of the football team, university senator, assistant editor of my school magazine, general secretary of my computer science group and class representative during my masters and postgraduate programmes. What has always been in my mind when I am appointed or in a leadership position is that God is with me, and I always ask myself, 'What will Jesus do?' if he was in my position.

I love Christmas, because as I was named Emmanuel (God with us), it makes me ponder and reflect on the season when Christ was born and, as you all know, Jesus Christ was called Emmanuel.

Jesus Padilla-Negrete, accounting coordinator, Mexico

I was born in May and was given the name Jesus because it was my father's name. My grandfather gave this name to him for religious reasons. I did act in various nativity plays about the birth of Jesus, which are common in Mexico, but for some reason I was given the role of Joseph.

I do love Christmas because it's a time to reflect on our blessings over the year, and also because of the large family gatherings which mark the season.

Carol Berry in the studio Carol will produce a show and then go straight to her parents' for Christmas
Carol Berry, producer, Radio 1 and 1Xtra

I was born in the summer (July) so never thought about being a Christmas baby. I'm quite glad I'm not, actually. Being a summer baby suits my personality so much better.

My mum told me that she and Dad liked different names for me. Mum liked Karen and Dad liked Carol. You can guess who won! As a child I did get called Christmas Carol occasionally.

I'm from a large family with two brothers, a sister, Mum, Dad and lots of nephews and nieces. Each year we rotate Christmas around the siblings and my parents' home. It's all hands on deck with the cooking, laying the table and playing with children. As there are so many adults, we do Secret Santa to keep the cost down and we buy pressies for the kids. This year there are 22 of us having Christmas dinner, and I just couldn't imagine spending Christmas any other way. Just like I've done for the past couple of years, I'll be producing a radio show and then dashing to Mum and Dad's to get stuck in.


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