20 Baby Names That Are Merry and Bright

Dec 15th 2014

 baby name roundups by theme

We all mark the season in different ways, but most of us can agree that we love this time of year. Between the gift giving, candle lighting, song singing, and cocoa drinking, we're ready for a perfectly joyful holiday season and a sparkling happy new year.

If you're preparing for your own bundle of joy this time of year, you may be hoping to mark your child's entry into the world with a festive name. And while we love some of the typical holiday favorites like Holly, Joy, or Noelle, we were inspired to dig a little deeper for names that ring clear as a bell.

With bright sounds and meanings that are cheerful and brilliant, they remind us of a sunlit romp in the glimmer of a fresh snowfall. We think these refreshing, happy names are sure to spread smiles and warmth this holiday season.

  1. Aliza: With a breezy sound and a zippy "z", this lovely Hebrew name sounds as cheerful as its meaning, "joyful". Aliza may feel like a twist on names like Alice or Eliza, but it's an independent name that's much more rare.

  2. Asher: It's not often that a name finds itself in the position to appeal to a variety of styles and across different faiths, but that's exactly the case for Asher. Like Archer or Ashton, Asher has a trend-worthy sound, but it's the sturdy biblical background and beautifully simple meaning--happy--that make us jump for joy.

  3. Beatrice, Beatrix: The classical stylings of Beatrice, featured in Dante's Divine Comedy, are charming today's parents once again. The variation Beatrix sounds a bit more spunky, and carries a literary association in children's author Beatrix Potter. Both names have a bright sound and are Latin, meaning she brings joy.

  4. Blythe: An English surname coming from the word blithe, meaning "carefree, happy, light," we think Blythe is the epitome of a cheerfully fashionable name. Some may associate it with Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables, or from Blithe Spirit, a comic play written in the 40s. Or, you may think of actress Blythe Danner, mother of Gwenyth Paltrow (and subsequently daughter Apple's middle name).

  5. Brighton: On the shores of Great Britain, Brighton ("bright town") is a spirited seaside resort town that some are turning into a given name. This name feels like a proper British gent with a gleaming white smile. In the bygone TV series Everwood, the character Bright Abbott's middle name was Brighton.

  6. Claire, Clara: These two names are pristine and light, with a sound as clear as their meaning ("clear, bright"). While Claire is a French-styled classic, Clara brings to mind a ringlet-haired Victorian girl, as portrayed in the Christmas ballet The Nutcracker.

  7. Crispin: The sound of this name is what gives it an unmistakable clean, crisp feeling, evocative of a brisk winter's day. With similarities to names like Kingston, Christian, and Tristan, we think this Latin name is poised for more attention. Recent bearers include actor Crispin Glover and a character in the Harry Potterseries.

  8. Cyrus: While Cyrus has debated roots and meanings, the Persian word for "sun" aligns with its sunny sound perfectly. A multitude of contemporary associations, from singer/actor Billy Ray Cyrus to a character in Scandal, converge to make this name more accessible. With the cheerful nickname Cy as a possibility, it's no wonder that this name is showing lots of potential. Chosen by actor couple Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy for their son.

  9. Elena: At the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, we adore the Greek classic Helen in all her forms (there are at least more than 60). Elena happens to be the most popular right now, and we can see why: its sweeping, lyrical sounds create the style our very own Baby Name Wizard penned "liquid names". (And a certain Vampire Diaries character doesn't hurt!) Its meaning, "shining light" or "bright one" is a beautifully subtle nod to the holiday season.

  10. Felicity: A virtue name meaning "happiness", Felicity is a charming, upbeat darling that's perfect alongside Serenity and Grace. We've seen this name before in the late 90s TV show by the same name, and worn by a "spritely" American Girl doll (whose surname is, appropriately, Merriman). But Felicity remains more popular in the UK, where it's ranked at 141, compared the 579 in the US.

  11. Felix: For awhile there, Felix had a tough go of things. A cartoon cat and the neat-freak character from The Odd Couple meant parents were much less enthusiastic than they once were over this Latin name meaning "happy, fortunate". The good news is that the dip in popularity during the 20th century gave Felix a chance to sound fresh and winning once again in the 21st century.

  12. Ilaria: On a list of merry, bright names, it's a bit ironic that we're avoiding the once-beloved Hilary/Hillary, a cheerful name that has the same roots as the word hilarious. In its place, we give you Ilaria, the Italian form that transforms the now-passé Hilary to a fresh, melodic name filled with fantasia and lyricism.

  13. Jovie: With the meaning "joyful, jovial", Jovie is a sweetly cheerful name with a holiday ring to it (Jovie was Zooey Deschanel's character in the movie Elf.) It fits right in with Evelyn's "Evie" and Sophia's "Sophie", giving it a familiar but creative feel. A runner-up to Jovie may be Jolie, a French name meaning "pretty" that feels a little jolly this time of year.

  14. Lucia: An international name with "bright" written all over it, Lucia (pronounced loo-SEE-ə, LOO-shə, or loo-CHEE-ə) is a stylish choice with international flair. As a holiday bonus, the Scandinavian celebration of St. Lucia is a glowing event, with girls carrying candles and singing in procession as one is crowned with a wreath of candles on her head. Nicknames like Lulu and Lucy give this name even more charm.

  15. Miles: While it's great that this name means peaceful and calm, we chose Miles for its similarities to the word "smile". It may be a surprising connection, but we discovered that many parents who chose this name found that they love this happy little coincidence. Anagrams aside, Miles has a cheerful sound with a little bit of jazz influence and it's sure to please.

  16. Phoebe: This winsome Greek name means clear and bright, and its lighthearted demeanor and cross-cultural associations have made it an offbeat classic. Helped back into fashion by the character on Friends followed by Charmed, parents will continue to sing this name's praises long after we first heard "Smelly Cat". It's hard to go wrong with a gorgeous, intriguing, and moonlit name with roots in Greek mythology and mentions in the Bible.

  17. Samson: A robust Biblical name with a stronger-than-steel image, Samson's swagger is balanced by its bright meaning, "sun," and the friendly nicknames it affords (Sam, Sammy). It's started to make some strides in popularity, but this brilliant choice remains outside of the top 500 boys' names.

  18. Silvan, Sylvan: Silvan comes from a Latin word meaning "of the forest, woods," which brings to mind a snowy scene this time of year, but its the silvery sound that sparkles with holiday cheer. The ending imparts a masculine sturdiness, though the feminine forms Sylvie and Sylvia have given some parents pause. We think this name is all too rare, given its magnetic sound and nature-inspired meaning.

  19. Stella: Drawing from the popularity of names like Ella and Isabella, parents rediscovered this otherworldly "star" in the past decade. Now a top 100 hit, Stella's come a long way from Marlon Brando's tearful cry in A Streetcar Named Desire. This pretty, twinkling name is a favorite chosen by celebs like Antonio Banderas, Matt Damon, Paul McCartney and many more.

  20. Tate: It's hard to top the unabashed happiness of a sweet and simple name like Tate, which appropriately means "cheerful". This English surname is cute and underused, making it a refreshing choice that will fit the bill for a one-syllable charmer.

Are you expecting a holiday baby? What names bring you cheer this time of year?


December 15, 2014 12:58 PM

Can I just point out that Jolie is not a French name, but actually just the word for 'pretty'? Please don't name a child Jolie thinking it's a well-established name.

December 15, 2014 1:02 PM

Miles does not mean peaceful and calm.  In fact the origin of Miles is uncertain.  It is probably of Germanic origin, but it has long been conflated with the Latin miles which means 'soldier,' pretty much the opposite of peaceful and calm.

Beatrice/Beatrix have Latin origins, probably derived from a word meaning traveler. These names have also been conflated with the Latin beatus which means blessed.  Nothing to do with "she brings joy."

Tate is of unknown derivation, no evidence that it means cheerful.

Stella does indeed mean star, and it was first used as a given name by Sir Philip Sidney in his sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella.  However, it is also part of the Marian epithet Stella Maris, Star of the Sea, which would add to its appropriateness as a name for a Christmas baby.

Other Christmas names:  the obvious Natalie/Natalia/Natale, Winter, Nicholas/Nicole/Nicola/Klaus, Casper/Melchior/Balthasar, Gabriel (for the angel of the annunciation and who appeared to the shepherds), also Shepherd, and the much less obvious Yule.

This is also the Hanukkah season, so Judah and Mattathias and all its derivatives.

December 16, 2014 1:02 PM

I started reading this list and as soon as I got to Beatrice thought to myself "I can't wait to see what Miriam says about these". :) I'm kind of disappointed to see lists like this passing along false information on BNW.

December 16, 2014 1:27 PM

Sad to say, the blog posts by authors other than Laura W. often don't live up to her standards.

By Amy3
December 16, 2014 2:32 PM

Lturtle, I thought the same thing! 

I agree with you, Miriam, the guest authors aren't always up to Laura's standards. It's too bad. 

December 17, 2014 9:38 PM

Oh, and I went to school with someone named Merry.

December 20, 2014 2:41 AM

I like a lot of these names.

for our daughter, it was between Elena and Stella, finally chose Stella. 

If we have a second daughter, will probably give her a middle name of Lucia, in honor of SIL Lucie.

December 23, 2014 4:44 PM

First, I maintain that the name Eliza derives from the Hebrew and is a derivation of Elizabeth (or if you wish to use the original Hebrew Elisheba) which means one who is consecrated to God. Eliza does not mean joy; however the name Aliza (pronounced Ah-Lee-Zah) does and comes from the Hebrew as the writer states. So I disagree with the writer on this point and I suggest that he/she confirm her facts about the meaning of a particular name before posting. Do the research and be sure.

December 26, 2014 11:51 PM

Ellinder, note that that's not the only mistake in this article. It basically repeats a lot of the nonsensical, totally false information found on many (most?) baby-name-meaning sites. Very disappointing to see such a badly-researched article on Baby Names Wizard.

December 31, 2014 2:29 AM

My daughter just gave birth to her 2nd child, first daughter for her, on Dec 22 and named her Lorelei.  She had no interest in naming her child after the Christmas/Hanukkah/winter season.  I voted for Noelle but she vetoed it in favor of Lorelei.

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