Top baby names: Spanish parents depart from tradition

Spaniards are getting more and more creative with their baby names, opting more for Games of Thrones than Biblical, according to a new report.

Top baby names: Spanish parents depart from tradition
A 'baby-jumping' festival near Burgos, Spain. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP.

Daniel and Lucía have in recent years become the most popular baby names for boys and girls in Spain, according to the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) on Thursday.

The report showed the top baby names in Spain for each decade, dating back to before the 1930s.

For most of the past 80 years, Maria for girls and Jose or Antonio for boys had been the top go-to names for babies in Spain.

But this decade has seen a shift in the way Spanish parents name their newborns, opting for a break in tradition. Between 2010 and 2014, Daniel and Lucia have been the top baby names chosen instead.

We took a look at some of the top names – and most original ones – that have become in vogue this decade.

1. Daniel & Lucía

Photo: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP.

This is the first time that Daniel has risen to the top for boys names.

And Lucia becoming a top pick is the first time since the 1980s when the standard of Maria or Maria Carmen has been beat out for number one – and only the second time since before the 1930s where Maria hasn’t been above the rest.

2. Hugo & Maria

Photo: Pedro Armestre/AFP.

Though it lost its top spot, Maria still came in at number two for girls so far this decade, meaning Spaniards haven’t completely lost their love for the name, which is the Spanish version of Mary.

But Hugo has made a huge jump in its popularity, now at second place when in the 2000s it was only at twelfth place. Before that, the Germanic name was never even in the top 50.

3. Paula & Alejandro

Photo: Desiree Martin/AFP.

While Alejandro might seem like a natural Spanish name to hold a top spot, it actually didn’t make it into the top ten until the 1990s, holding onto first place through 2009. Has Lady Gaga’s song helped it maintain its popularity?

Paula also sounds quite traditional, but was never in the top 50 even until the 1980s when it took 48th place and then shot up into the top ten the following decade, where it has remained since.

And the more unusual names…

Some of the less traditional names to make top spots were Iker at number 14, which is a Basque name, and Izan at number 23 – neither of these names had made it into the top 50 before the turn of the 21st century.

For female names, the Latin-origin Valeria at number 12 was never a common pick before this decade.

And Noa – more commonly a boy’s name – first appeared as the 49th most popular name in the 2000s, but has jumped all the way to 16th place in recent years.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising names – though less common – include those inspired by football. There are about 100 little boys born since 2010 with the first name of Neymar, like the Brazilian-born Barcelona football star.

Another 22 boys born since 2000 are named Zidane after the Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane.

Pop culture has also apparently had an impact on the Spanish baby-naming process as more than 120 baby girls born since 2010 are named Arya and 22 were named Daenerys – obvious tributes to the beloved Game of Thrones series.

Sociologist Roberto Barbeito told news daily 20 Minutos that Biblical names, often imposed during baptism by the Church, have lost some popularity because Catholicism plays less of a role now in Spaniard’s lives.

“Names are not free choices, their selection is deeply influenced by the social context,” Barbeito said.

“Names are used as references for the way of life, it’s like saying to your progeny that you want them to share the same qualities that distinguish the person from whom you took the name.”

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How Spain celebrates All Saints’ Day

All Saints' Day or Día de Todos los Santos as it’s called in Spanish falls on November 1st and is a public holiday in Spain. Discover how this day is celebrated across the country.

How Spain celebrates All Saints' Day

Major shops are closed, kids stay home from school and many businesses are shut too, so what do Spaniards do on All Saints’ Day? 

A day at the cemeteries

The most traditional activity to do on All Saints’ Day is to go to the local cemetery. Spanish families usually go together to the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, clean their gravestones and leave fresh flowers. Some cemeteries may even have events on such as live music or dance performances.

It’s also a day for spending time with family and perhaps meeting at someone’s house for a meal.  

READ ALSO: Five weird and wonderful Spanish traditions on All Saints’ Day 

Traditional treats to enjoy on Día de Todos los Santos


Panellets are traditional sweets from Catalonia eaten around this time of year. They are typically small balls made from marzipan and studded with pine nuts. You can, however, get many different flavours and many different types of decorations such as chocolate or even coffee ones, although most of them are still made with almond flour.  

Huesos de Santo

Saint’s bones as they are called in English are another typical treat found all over Spain at this time of year. Also made from marzipan, they’re long finger-like rolls filled with a sweet egg-yolk custard, created to look like bones. Today you can find many different flavours such as chocolate, coconut, praline or even yoghurt.

Try some huesos de Santo on All Saints’ Day. Photo: Tamorlan / WikiCommons

Buñuelos de Viento

Wind fritters are small deep-fried fritters or doughnuts, which are again found in many regions across Spain during this time of year. They’re made from a batter of flour, sugar, eggs and milk and then deep-fried in hot oil before being filled with different creamy centres.

The most typical is vanilla cream, but you can also find many different types. Another favourite is those filled with cabello de ángel or angel hair, which is essentially candied spaghetti squash.

Legend says that when you eat a buñuelo, a soul is released from purgatory, which is why eating them has become a popular custom on All Saints’ Day.

Experts vary in their opinion as to the origins of these fritters. Some say they date back to the Moors, while others claim that one of the first references to them went as far back as Roman times.

La Castañada

La Castañada (Castanyada in Catalan) is a tradition held across Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Aragón and coincides with All Saints’ Day and Halloween, even though it’s a separate festival. During the days leading up to these and the days itself, you’ll find chestnut sellers on street corners, roasting shiny brown chestnuts and big pumpkin-coloured sweet potatoes.

Children also go to school around the time, dressed as chestnut sellers.

This is the time of year for roast chestnuts in Spain. Photo: Angel Abril Ruiz / WikiCommons

Many regions in Spain have their own versions of the Castañada, such as Gaztañerre Eguna in the Basque Country and Navarra, which is known as the ‘día de las castañas asadas‘ or day of the roast chestnuts. It is typically celebrated on November 2nd and All Saints’ Night when families gather to honour their deceased loved ones by eating chestnuts, snails in sauce and motokil, similar to polenta made from cornmeal.