Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lydia and Bethany

In today's climate of giving place names as first names (think of the 'trendy' examples of London, Preston, Ireland) it is always good to look for alternatives which provide traditional charm whilst retaining the place name status. Two excellent examples of this are Lydia and Bethany.


This name has the rather unexciting meaning of 'A woman from Lydia' - an area of Asia Minor - then again when using a place name one should not expect an interesting meaning. However, what's more important about the name is the main namesake - Lydia (from Thyatira) who was a purple cloth-dyer in the Bible and was converted by St Paul. Another famous Lydia is Lydia Bennett in Pride and Prejudice - Lizzie's silly sister.


The name Bethany has more of a connection with Jesus than the later apostles. It was the name of the small village outside Jerusalem where Jesus stayed before the Last Supper and crucifixion. It was also where the sisters Mary and Martha lived, and where Jesus raised their brother Lazarus from the death. More information about the town of Bethany can be found here, on Wikipedia.

Bethany has the meaning 'house of figs'. The beth element is used in several place names in Israel such as Bethlehem and Bethsaida.

The enduring popular of Bethany can also be accredited to 'Beth' being a nickname of Elizabeth. Bethany can therefore be used as an alternative - to honour an Elizabeth or the other way around. The 'any' part can also be linked to names such as Anne or containing the '-anne' or '-an' element.

The Welsh name Bethan is connected to Elizabeth, instead of Bethany.