Beyond History Blog

Summer, Vacation, Sunshine!

Andrea Bentschneider - 14. August 2015 - Family, Genealogy, General, Onomastics

According to researchers at the academy of science in Mainz, those good things are spread all over Germany! They showed with vivid illustrations how many people in Germany carry summery names: For example Sommer (summer), Urlaub (vacation), Sonnenschein (sunshine) or Pool.  Based on directory entries it was made apparent that ‘Sommer’ is a name that is spread evenly in Germany, while the ‘Urlaubs’ gather in Stuttgart and the ‘Sonnenscheins’ and ‘Pools’ in North Rhine-Westphalia.

How did families get names like these? With the name ‘Sommer’, it is mostly the season that is behind the name. A man called Sommer in the Middle Ages might only have had to pay taxes in summer for example, or he lived on the sunny side of a building, area etc. It is also possible that the name derives from the Middle High German word ‘sumber’ for a basket or kettledrum, so the carrier might have been a basket weaver or a musician. Sounds complicated! Easier to interpret is the name ‘Sonnenschein’, as sunshine was a name for a happy person in the Middle Ages already.

If you have a less sunny name but still want to know how frequent your family name is in Germany, you can visit, enter your name and see on a map where most of your namesakes live. Sometimes this gives you interesting insights on where your name might originate from.

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