Finland reconsiders naming patterns

Finland reconsiders naming patterns


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Finns could be more like the Spanish in the future, allowing their children to hold on to the surname of both their father and their mother.

On Tuesday, a special task force presented a legal proposed to the Minister of Justice Jari Lindström proposing a series of changes to Finnish name-giving patterns.

Like most European states, Finland has traditional patrilineal customs, which dictate that a married woman takes her husband’s surname. That became legally mandatory in 1921, despite the fact that in Eastern Finland that was not always the prevailing custom. Most first names in Finland are of Christian origin.

The proposal put forward by a Finnish Names Act suggests changes both for surnames and first names. Under the new proposals, children will be able to keep the surnames of both their mother and their father.

That would, for example, allow the youngest son of Prime MinisterJuha Sipilä to be called Tuomo Sipilä Juntunen, thereby retaining the mother’s surname. Another option for both married and cohabiting partners will be to adopt a common hyphenated surname, as in Sipilä-Juntunen. Moreover, the law should allow up to four first names from the current three.

The proposal is supposed to be a compromise between tradition and modernity.

On the one hand, the issue at hand is to reflect societal changes such as women’s emancipation, the proliferation of children born out of wedlock, and the internationalization of families. On the other hand, the committee suggests the preservation of gender-specific names, while retaining traditional gender-neutral Finnish names such as Miska of Tuisku.

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