News |

Finland loosens name law, but most still prefer classics

Finland will update name laws at the start of 2019 to provide residents with a wider range of options for their own names as well as their children’s. 

Mietteliäs pikkulapsi sormi huulillaan.
Leo and Aino were Finland's favourite baby names in 2017. Image: Alex Smith / CC0

The new laws will create more space for foreign-background names and families. First names will no longer have to conform to Finnish tradition. That said, many foreign-background names that have become widespread as a result of immigration already comply with Finnish naming practice.

Story continues after photo.

Viivapiirros istuvasta lapsesta sekä nimet Helevä, Sävel, Salama, Tuttu, Helmo, Nero, Imeno, Vilkas, Oimo, Aatolvi, Tomia, Vapeli ja Luori.
Finnish names in the late 1800s. Image: Severin Falkman (1880) / Museovirasto, Musketti / Yle

Starting next year, parents will be able to give children a maximum of four first names, up from the current three. This is because an increasing number of Finnish residents and citizens come from countries where it is common to give children several first names. This is not a major innovation in naming practice in Finland however. Now and then, Finns bestowed their offspring with four names, but that was before the three-name limit was introduced by law in 1945.

Global influences

The range of first names chosen by parents in Finland has doubled since the 1980s.

The variety of first names given to children in Finland is on the increase. Individuality is a growing phenomenon as parents aim to give their children unique names. Naming trends are also changing at a faster rate than ever.

Naming gatekeepers

But civil servants will still regulate name-giving in Finland to some degree. Last year, the names committee maintained by the Ministry of Justice nixed parents’ plans to name baby boys Alcapone, Enikko, Monck, Weicca, and Topelius.

Officials also shut down Poon, Wolf, Fafnir, Marj-Linn, Paulii, and Tuhka (’ash’) for girls.

Story continues after photo.

Pikkutyttö pukee pieniä Disney-nukkeja muovailuvahasta tehtyihin iltapukuihin.
A name inspired by Disney? Since the 1800s, Finland has been home to 450 girls named Lumikki (Snow White), according to Finland's Population Register Centre. Image: Jennifer Murray

Other naming no-nos in the past decade have included Lucifero, Sweethoneybeebambi, and Xstina.

Parents determined to give their child a name turned down by the names committee can take their battle through Finland’s highest court. Last year, judges declined Fosforos for a boy and Ammu (’shoot’) for a girl.

Leo and Aino - Finland's most popular in 2017

Some 40 percent of babies born in Finland draw their name from a pool of the country's 100 most common names.

Last year the most popular Finnish first names given for boys were Leo, Elias, Eino, and Väinö. For girls, Aino, Eevi, Emma, Sofia, and Aada topped the list compiled by Finland's Population Register Centre.

Ellen and William were meanwhile favourites among Finland’s Swedish-speaking minority.

Latest in: News

Headlines

Our picks

Latest

Muualla Yle.fi:ssä