Spanish Naming Customs

Spanish NamesThe Spanish naming customs are traditions observed when naming children who are born in Spain. These customs are also practiced in other Spanish-speaking countries, even former territories of Spain still observe the customs today.

Spanish names usually consist of a given name followed by 2 family names. There are two because the first one is the father’s surname and the second one belongs to the mother. But as the years go by, these family names can be interchanged if the parents would like to.

Most of the time, it is practiced to use only the given name and the father’s surname. This is what the Spanish use for legal and formal documents. However, influenced by the places where they immigrated to there can be variations with how the Hispanic community uses naming customs.

Spanish Forenames

A child’s given name is usually chosen by their parents. This is recorded in the Registro Civil (Civil Registry) for the legal identity of the individual. Nowadays, parents can choose any name for their children. There are still restrictions but they are not as rigid as before. The common sources of Spanish names are personal taste of the parents, honoring a relative, the nomina or General Roman Calendar and many more.

Some parents observe limited cultural naming customs and name their children only religious names. Some also have the habit of naming their offspring typical Spanish names like Antonio, Maria and Jose. These days, the only limitation that is widely observed by the Hispanics is naming their child insulting names. This is not allowed as a child should be given the right to keep his or her dignity.

Influence on Marriage

In Spain, a woman is not required to change her family name upon marriage. In most cases, like with high society meetings and with no legal value, the surname of the husband is added to the wife’s with the help of the preposition de. For example, if Maria Perez is to marry Jose Alvarez then her name would be Maria Perez de Alvarez. However, this name formatting is not observed in everyday settings and has no legal value.

Observation of Forms of Address

Elder men are formally referred to as Senor while women are called Senora. When addressing Hispanic men and women, they use the first surname of the person rather than the last – Jose Alvarez Perez will be called Senor Alvarez rather than Senor Perez. If the need calls for it, a more formal address would be Don instead of Senor. The same goes for addressing Spanish women (Dona), especially those that are high in stature.   

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