Saturday, December 21, 2013


Gingerbread Tutu Dress
from Mya Papaya Boutique

"On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine ladies dancing"

I was watching a recent episode of 'Glee' tonight where Mr Schue has a discussion with Sue about what a great dancer Ginger Rogers was. She was able to lead her dance partner backwards in high heels. I don't know how true that actually is, but her dancing made her a star overnight and a screen legend. It also seemed very fitting as a Christmas name. Gingerbread men, houses and even villages are a popular treat at this time of the year, so this spicy name could be a cute seasonal name.

It is the ginger (pronounced JIN-jer) root that is used as a spice for culinary and medicinal purposes. It's a hot, fragrant spice, and  ginger is often a term used in English that means 'spirit, spunk or temper'. This was probably the meaning that Geri Halliwell had in mind when she adopted the name Ginger Spice while in the group The Spice Girls. It may have also been a reference to her red hair, as people with red hair are often called "gingers" in reference to the red colour that some types of ginger has.

This reference is what leads most red heads to advise against calling a red-headed child Ginger. There are a lot of jokes out there about red-heads (there's even a website dedicated to them), and the colloquial term "red headed stepchild" refers to someone who is treated less favourably than others. So calling a red-haired child Ginger can seem like a double whammy.

This also leads to another comment that Gingers say they hear a lot - many people call their cats, dogs or even horses Ginger, in reference to their red coat. Not great, but at least it means that people think of the name fondly if they associate it with their beloved pets.

There is indeed plenty of love for the name Ginger out there. It was actually a top 1000 name for girls in the U.S from 1933 to 1989, peaking in 1971 at position #187. The popularity of Ginger Rogers (birth name Virginia) would have helped with this. Another famous Ginger during this period was the movie star character that was shipwrecked with Gilligan on the 60's TV show 'Gilligan's Island'.

Together with Ginger Roberts, they gave this name a glamorous air. This impression endures, although the before-mentioned Spice Girl updates this image with an added  feeling of fun and spunk. Main characters named Ginger in the childrens' shows 'As Told By Ginger' (2000-2009) and 'Zeke and Luther' (2009-2012) give it some freshness and youth. And if your first thought when you hear the name is of Gingerbread, you may also feel this name has a certain sweetness to it. Cute nicknames Ginny or Gigi also work well with Ginger.

Ginger may have taken on some negative connotations since the hey day of Ginger Rogers, but it would be nice to see this dancing ladies' name on the rise again.

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