When Twihards Name Babies: Who's a Cute Little Cullen?

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Nothing says "I love you" to a new baby than a name that suggests the undead. After all, what could be more admirable than the ability to drain another person's blood with your razor-sharp teeth? If you're not really into vampires, you can always go to werewolf route and align your child's moniker with Team Jacob. So many are, after all. According to Time magazine, people are loving names from Twilight for their offspring.

Premiere of Summit Entertainment's "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" - Party

Or are they? It isn't the strongest theory, not when Isabella was already on the rise, according to past lists from the Social Security Administration, long before the book's release. Next to other classic names such as Emily, Sophia and Olivia -- all within the top 10 -- Isabella was #7 in 2004, a year before Twilight's release. And Jacob was #1 back in 2004. Both are currently in first place in 2009, but their movement on the list is slight -- and Edward has barely budged since the release of the book (#134 in 2004 and #137 in 2009).

On the other hand, Cullen -- the last name of the vampire family -- has spiked, to become the #485th most popular baby name in 2009. Er ... which means that 484 other names were more commonly used. But after all of those, people are racing to name their babies after vampires.

But let's say for a moment that people really are inspired by literature to name their babies -- why Twilight? Yes, it's enormously popular, but so is Harry Potter, and the highest "Harry" has gotten on the list in the last 10 years is #501. Wouldn't you think people would be more inclined to name their children after the boy wizard than the bloodsucking monster? And then Holden, presumably after Holden Caulfield, ranked #333 this year, beating out the Cullens -- does that mean people are crushing on, or paying tribute to, J.D. Salinger?

People can make all the statements they want about the popularity of the name Jacob, but when it has consistently been the #1 boy's name since 2000 (five years before the release of the book and five years after), can we really say that it's all due to Stephenie Meyer's novels?

Er ... I might need to retract that statement, since the New York Times has tracked down some of the parents of the 555 little Cullens now crawling around America. Apparently, at least one did read the book while pregnant, and fell in love with the "really old names."

Leave it to Entertainment Weekly to ask the hard-hitting question: What does your child do with the name if he's not quite in love with vampires as much as you are?

Call me old-fashioned, but if you're going to engage in a passionate display of fandom for any franchise, why not get yourself a Cullen tattoo? I mean, at least if you wind up regretting that decision in 20 years, you’ll just have to pay for a little laser treatment, not a decade's worth of therapist bills FOR YOUR INNOCENT CHILD who might end up being totally Team Jacob anyway.

Which sort of begs the question: Would you ever name your child after a literary character (undead or alive) and if so, which one?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her book is Navigating the Land of If.

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