You can’t count on the weather in the South. It’s fickle, temperamental, and does whatever it dang well pleases: February will surprise you with a picnic-worthy day, then snow will show up on the first day of April. But if there’s one thing that we can depend on down here—something that’s as reliable as Duke’s and as beloved as the neighborhood meat ‘n’ three—it’s the tradition of giving our children double names. While Southerners didn’t invent the double name tradition (hat tilt to the Catholics and the upper echelons of 17th century European society for that), it’s safe to say we’ve nearly perfected it. Here are three reasons why double names will never go the way of rotary phones and dinosaurs.
They’re an easy way to keep the peace.
Choose to name your daughter after your mother instead of your mother-in-law, and you might as well have launched the first missile of World War III. Double names are a sweet way to honor both sides of the family, as well as keep names alive that may otherwise have been lost with earlier generations.
But they’re also good for yelling.
If Mama shouts your first name up the stairs, she’s probably just calling you to supper. But if you ignore her and she has to yell for you again, you best believe you’re going to hear your first and middle names in fiery succession. A double name ups the ante and gives your dear Mama three names to yell when you’re in trouble. A mouthful, maybe, but you best believe it’s effective.
From the “something extra” we put in our pecan pies to the way we accessorize, Southerners pride ourselves on our originality, and double names are just one more way for us to flex our creative muscles. Plus, double names can make things easier in group settings: If it weren’t for double names, we might have three Marys in a classroom, rather than a Mary Eliza, a Mary Shannon, and a Mary Grace. And wouldn’t that be confusing.
WATCH: Top 50 Southern Names and Their Meanings
While you've probably had your children's names picked out for years or are currently studying up on your family tree to choose just the right moniker, there is plenty of baby name inspiration to be found among your fellow Southerners. Here are 50 of our favorite Southern baby names.