Miko. So exotic in New Zealand. So common in Finland. Well, Mika and Mikko are common boys names, so people are often surprised and ask why he has a Finnish name.
As for our surname…D’s and W are not common so when asked, it sounds like we are saying ‘wah-wah’ and we get some momentary blank looks. I’ve been asked a couple of times to write my name down and circle which is the first name and which is the last.
Surnames only became compulsory in Finland in 1921. Prior to that people would often take a name associated with the area or farm in which they lived. Because the farm might be home to workers who were unrelated, the surname didn’t necessarily mean people were family.
Later, some families took Swedish surnames to reflect the status held by those of the upper and middle classes. Those in the armed forces were given names, whether they wanted them or not. Having a Swedish surname then does not necessarily mean a family speaks Swedish.
As the political climate changed, people began to drop Swedish names, or translate them back into Finnish. Surnames to do with nature became common, especially those ending in merio (sea) and niemi (peninsula). Other common names include Laine (wave), Vainio (field), Nurmi (grassland), and Salo (grove).
Common endings are -nen (small), and -la / lä (place of). By 1985, 38% of Finns had a -nen name and 13% had a compound word name, eg/ Kivimäki (stone hill) or Rautakoski (iron rapids).
So there’s a Finnish name generator where you can enter your given name and magically be given a Finnish one. I’d LOVE to know what yours is (if you don’t already have one!) , so give it a go and let me know. I’ve tried it a few times and get the same answer every time.
And if you do have a Finnish name, I’d love to know what it translates to in english!
So, this is Virva Lehtinen (my new Finnish name) signing off.