"On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eleven pipers piping"
'The Twelve Days of Christmas' is supposedly based a twelfth night game, and twelfth night festivities generally included feasts, dancing and music. Hence, after all the birds have been eaten and the ladies are ready to dance and the lords ready to leap, all that's missing is the music. And so we have the pipers (and the drummers, but that's the next post ;-)).
The obvious name here would be Piper, a name I adore. However I've previously had a look at Piper here, and as the names I've chosen so far seem fairly heavily weighted towards the girls side I decided to take the opportunity to go with another boys name. Although technically Hamlin could work for either gender, it just seems to be preferred for males.
Before I get ahead of myself though, the inspiration for today's choice comes from one of the most legendary pipers there is - the Pied Piper of Hamelin. If you're unaware of this tale, 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' is the story of a German town called Hamelin that became so overrun with rats that they hired a man in colourful (pied) clothing to rid the town of their rat infestation. The piper had an almost magical talent with his pipe, and when he played it the rats were so entranced that they followed him and his pipe to a river, where they all subsequently drowned and died. But when the piper went to the town officials for his payment of services rendered they refused to pay him. So he played a different tune on his pipe that caused the children of the town to leave with him, and they were never seen again.
It's unknown whether the Piper actually exists, although it is accepted that something happened in the history of this town (most likely in the 1200's) that meant the loss of large numbers of children. Theories include that it was the Plague, and the piper represents Death; or that it was caused by large numbers of people emigrating to the East. The Wikipedia entry for this is actually interesting reading if you want to know more.
Of course, with such a tragic story associated wit the name, many people are put off using this place name for a child. The slightly different spelling puts in more in the league of surname names than place names - such as actor Harry Hamlin. Although the pronunciation (ham-len) and the meaning (it's a German name meaning 'little home lover') are the same with both spellings. Some people however have not let this - or the fact that it contains the problematic ham - deter them. It as been given to more than 5 boys in a single year in the U.S eleven times since 1880. That is the Hamlin spelling, Hamelin has never appeared on the SSA charts.
One of the appeals of this name is that this is one of a few boys names ending with the 'lyn' sound. Yet it manages to retain a decidedly masculine sound, maybe because there aren't any girl names starting with 'Ham'. It's reminiscent of Hamlet or Hamilton, but somewhat humbler sounding.
If it's a piper reference you want, it's definitely strong with Hamlin. Just maybe a little too strong for many people's liking, especially for a first name. It's a shame, as it's a nice, masculine sounding in a not-in-your-face kind of way name with a sweet meaning that could be a good, solid name if given a chance.