Choosing a Baby Name and the Perils of Frozen-Gate

frozenWith the anniversary of Frozen’s cinema release this weekend it’s probably worth passing on my experiences to anyone who will soon be choosing a baby’s name.

Yes, our daughter is called Elsa and, no, she is not named after the lead character in the animated Disney behemoth – she was born the month before it came out. It was a more innocent time, a time before the merchandising machine sprang into unstoppable action with Frozen duvet sets, Frozen dolls, Frozen lampshades, Frozen spanner sets, Frozen chainsaws and much more – all designed to part you from your hard-earned cash lest you suffer the tantrum of a stroppy toddler.

Even if there had been an advanced preview, we’re not the sort of saps who would choose to spend our last, precious cinema trip as non-parents watching a cartoon and then loving it so much we thought we’d name our daughter after the lead character. No offence to any parents of little Pocahontases who are reading.

I first heard of Frozen whilst pushing a sleeping baby around our village and listening to the excellent Kermode and Mayo 5Live Film Show podcast. Mark Kermode mentioned the character of Elsa and, although it was a little annoying, I figured that she sounded like a relatively minor character in a film that would end up as one of those easy come, easy go animated pictures despite the praise that Kermode had lavished upon it.

I was wrong.

Frozen is now officially the biggest animated picture ever and the fifth highest-grossing film of any type and Elsa is the character that every girl who watches it adores. Damn it. We discarded the name Elsie because it was becoming too popular and we wanted her to have a unique name at school. As it is, pretty much all of the girls in her class and, potentially, a couple of the boys will be called Elsa and there’s nothing we can do about it.

We knew that Elsa was a lion in Born Free but, although a classic, it wasn’t a major pop culture reference point – we took a calculated risk, we just didn’t realise that it was a battle on two fronts!

Baby Naming Adviceelsa crawling

My top advice for anyone picking a baby name is to spend an evening on the online film bible, IMDb, checking out the character lists for every upcoming release. It may seem like an effort when you have a house to prepare and breathing exercises to practice but you’ll thank me in the end.

Of course, you will be inundated with naming tips (Jim is a good name by the way…ahem) and you will no doubt have bought, borrowed or stolen numerous books on the topic. If you have stolen one then, please, do take it back – that’s not kind. The book we read suggested not calling our child Bertha because of associations with ‘Big Bertha’ apparently, whilst also genuinely warning us off the name Uranus. There are very few Uranuses running about in rural West Yorkshire, it’s true, but there is probably a perfectly good reason for that.

You’ll find a plethora of decent bits of advice on the internet, ranging from saying the full name out loud repeatedly to listen out for unfortunate homophones, to ensuring that the initials don’t spell out something horrendous, to confiding in a friend in order to check that it passes muster. You should be warned that, by publically stating your choice, you do run the risk of having the name stolen before your little cherub is born which would be irritating but may have saved me from having to launch my one-man Frozen boycott.  It was due to this moratorium that Elsa’s (our one, not the animated one) first cinema experienced involved going to see 12 Years a Slave – read the Bewildered Dad blog entry to enjoy Elsa’s pithy review of that movie.

Despite the above, I do still think it’s a blooming brilliant name (Jill chose it, obviously), it’s just that it would be nice to tell people our daughter’s name without thoroughly planting Let It Go into the heads of everyone within a hundred metre radius. Now, there’s an earworm that you’ll struggle to rid yourself of.

I guess if we can’t have the only Elsa, we’ll definitely settle for having the best Elsa.

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