Sunday Story: What’s in a Name? Names Matter

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How Names Define Us and why Names Matter…

Sunday Story by Elena Davis

When I moved to the United States I dreamed of changing my name to Stacy, Kelly, or Jenny. I craved to own a smooth as American peanut butter name. A name everyone said correctly, beautifully, and easily. When we played house I loved when my friends called me, Stacy, it screamed “confidence” and the “American dream” to me. I only wished it carried over into the rest of the school day. Then it was back to “Helena”, “Alana”, “Elaina”…

I never blamed them. Their tongue didn’t move in the same way the Italians say, “Elena”, like a sweet song of grace. Elena means bright shining light. What it represents is how it sounds the Italian way.

My nonno did the same when he called my American friends the Italian version of their name. He couldn’t help it. Later on he did the same with my husband, Jordan,“Giordano”. In his own way he expressed love by calling him what he knew.


It’s habit, familiarity, and comfort. The sounds we know are the ones we feel comfortable mimicking. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t graciously learn the correct pronunciation of people’s names. To me, it’s come to signify, that after a lifetime of hearing my name pronounced a dozen different ways, I still pick, Elena. The hard one to say. The cherished one I learned to love.

My great aunt, Zia Wanda, once told me I’d be grateful for my name someday. A classic Italian name that would always lead me… home. No matter where you go in the world, she said, they can’t take the Italian out of you.Hot tears roll down my cheeks as I think of the confidence she instilled in me.

So, what’s in a name?
YOU TELL ME…

I love to feel connected to those reading my posts. Please feel free to email or leave a comment here!

Written with Amore,

Elena

If you want to learn more about my family and childhood and missed this documentary special watch it here: FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD

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Black and white photo of a first grade girl. School photo
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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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8 Comments

  1. I think Italian names are beautiful! And quite honestly I love any ethnic name, being different is a great. I too got Marillia, Marla, and would have to break down my name: MIR – Ella. After that people got it. I would have to tell you though, for a long time I wanted to have one of the popular names like Mary or Anna. When I was young, growing up in Canada I thought having a different name was terrible. Now I love it!

    I love you name, when I see your posts I think of Elena Ferrante, the author.

    1. Dear Mirella, your name reminds me of a flower, so beautiful! My oldest daughter’s name is Amelie; from the time she was little, I’ve tried to encourage she love and cherish her name. It worked! From a young age, she appreciates her beautiful and “different” name. It took us a little longer, but better late than never! Thanks for your response.

  2. Hello Elena,
    I Love my name, I’m named after my Grandmother. She is Claire Margaret and I’m Margaret Claire, my first name is shorten to Margie.
    I enjoy your recipes and stories ❤️
    Love, Margie

    1. Thank you for your message Margie. I love the history of your name! My daughter’s name is Claire Lise- after her grandmother. You have a beautiful name.

  3. This got me thinking on how when I was little I wanted to be named something more “Spanish”. My family immigrated from Argentina to Spain, and the name Camila didn’t fit in the new culture. I wanted to be “Natalia” or “Sandra”.
    Anyways, now as an adult, I got to cherish my full Argentinian name, and be grateful for the shared culture I live in my home. Also happy that people don’t say “Camila? Like Camila Parker Bowles?” anymore 🙂

    1. Names are so important. They truly are part of who we are and when we truly accept our name we are able to love ourselves a little more. I love your name!

  4. I love your name! I love the names you have given to your children. Beautiful and fitting! I grew up with a French last name, LeFevre, I even struggled with spelling, the French “re” didn’t work when spelling things like fever. I did grow to cherish it when I was a little older. Thank you for sharing you beautiful stories and your amazing talent of telling them!

    1. Beckie, thank you so much. Embracing our names is part of learning to embrace ourselves. I love your story. Thank you for reading the stories. They are my heart. Feel free to share with any friends that might enjoy the stories and recipes!
      Best wishes,
      Elena