This regulation in Denmark ensures kids are not affected negatively by their parent's choice of name.
Naming babies is not as easy as it seems. Parents consider the meaning and context of the name and some even think about whether it's easy to make fun of the name. But some parents decide in favor of unconventional names. From a legal standpoint, the federal and state governments in the U.S. cannot interfere in your name selection, in most cases, with the exception of the name being a clear example of child abuse. But laws in other countries are different. Likewise, all babies born in Denmark must be given a name from a pre-approved list, as per Your Danish Life.
This conversation was started by an American mom, Annie Samples, who lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. She elaborated on the naming rule in her Instagram series entitled “Things That Are Normal In Denmark That I’m Scared To Tell My American Friends.” “In Denmark, you can’t name your baby whatever you want. In fact, there’s a pre-approved list you can choose from,” she said in the video.
Just in case the name you have always dreamt of naming your kid is not on that pre-approved list, Annie says, then you will need to plead your case to the church. These measures have been put into place to help ensure the well-being of a child and support them in not having names bestowed upon them that could negatively impact them for their entire life.
She further explained that while unconventional names are definitely a no-no for Danish parents, there are even some common ones that do not make the pre-approved list, which has about 22,000 approved girls’ names, 18,000 approved boys’ names, and 1,000 approved unisex names, according to 2022 records, as per University of Copenhagen. “We can’t name our kids something like Malibu Barbie here,” she explains, referencing YouTube star Trisha Paytas’ baby girl. “But there are even some more common-seeming names that have been blacklisted as well.”
However, new parents also tend to choose different names, as Statistics Denmark shows. There are criteria for naming a Danish baby. According to Your Danish Life, you must give your child a gender-specific name (there are unisex names in the list) that will not adversely affect them in the future, using only the letters from the Danish alphabet. Also, all children born in Denmark must be given a name before they are six months old. Parents who fail to do this will have to pay a penalty. If the child has not been given a surname within the deadline, then the baby will be given its mother’s surname.
Samples’ post soon went viral, inviting other Danes to comment on her Instagram reel. One commenter wrote, “It’s not ‘The Church’ who decides on a whim what names get approved and what don’t; today it is Agency of Family Law, who handles applications from parents who want to have a new name approved." While another user commented, “I live in Denmark (originally from Hungary) and we named our kid 'Isli', which is a name my (Danish) husband came up with. It was super easy to get it approved."
Samples' post started an interesting conversation on how different cultures and countries respond to the process of naming their newborn babies.