Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Ragnilda

Today we are back to Old Norse names. My family file has 7 instances (all from Sweden) of variations of the theme of Ragnilda: 2 females are named Ragna (the diminutive and more common form used today); 2 are named Ragnhild; 2 are named Ragnilla; and 1 is named Ragnilda.

All people have certain naming traditions and reasons for them. The idea behind the Scandinavian tradition of "calling up" an ancestor by giving the ancestor's name to a child was to honor the ancestor, imbue the child with that person's virtues, and provide for the rebirth of that ancestor's spirit (the belief that something of that person would live on in the child so named). A knowledge of Norse mythology is useful in "decoding" Scandinavian names. These names are based on single or compound elements and based on qualities or the good fortune of the gods that the parents wanted the child to have. An excellent discussion of Old Norse names and naming patters is found at The Viking Answer Lady (I have only mentioned a few points here. This is a great site if you have Scandinavian heritage and want to learn more about it.)

life is a never-ending circle
"calling up" our ancestors - a Scandinavian tradition
Ragnilda means "all knowing power" and the Old Norse form of the name is Ragnhildr which is made up of compound elements (2 elements) Ragn (council/advice) + hild (fight/battle).  To see the meaning of Viking given names and their use in Scandinavia today check out Viking Given Names.  Ragnilda and its variations is found in a limited number of countries, including Denmark, Norway and Sweden (Ragnhild), Iceland (Ragnhildur), Ireland (Raghnailt), and Scotland (Raghnaid). In the Gaelic speaking countries, Raghnailt is mostly found between the 12th and 16th centuries.

Do you have any Old Norse names in your family file? Why not see what qualities or ancestors their parents wanted to "call up."

See you back here tomorrow for the letter S. 

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