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How are children’s names chosen in your country? Do you follow ancient naming traditions or are modern names more popular? Do you pass names down through family generations or invent new ones?
Many Polish names are rooted in the names of Christian saints. It is quite common for people to celebrate their name-day, which is the day dedicated to their patron saint, in the same way that they celebrate their birthday.
Most Polish names actually have two forms; the formal version and the diminutive, which is a shorter and more widely used form of the original name. Katarzyna becomes Kasia. Małgorzata becomes Gosia. Barbara becomes Basia. Joanna becomes Asia.
Adding another layer of complexity, most Polish names, as well as many Polish words, can have multiple diminutive forms. By adding endings like –ka, -siu and –ek to names, the speaker expresses a level of intimacy with the person. Literally translated, these endings essentially mean cute or small.
So, for example, a woman’s formal name may be Katarzyna. Her colleagues and friends may call her Kasia. Parents and people who know her well may call her Kaśka or Kasiulka.
In the country of 40 million Poles there are 400,000 different last names and almost thousand times less first names. Compared to other countries, like the USA for instance where I had a hard time sometimes to distinguish between female and male names – in Poland there is a clear distinction. All female names end with “a”.
Polish children are usually given two names, from these names at least one is usually from Christian tradition, because of the baptism and strong influence of religion in lives of Poles. Although in my family all of us (I have 2 brothers) were given just one name.