personal names

personal names
   First names in Spain have traditionally been drawn from the calendar of saints observed by the Roman Catholic church, and, for women, from local shrines to the Virgin Mary (Pilar, Rocío) or from attributes of Christ or the Virgin (Asunción, Encarnación). Sometimes male and female names can be combined in the same person (a man might be called José María, a woman María José). Parents wishing to choose names free from religious connotations are in practice faced with restricted choice. Even the famous communist leader La Pasionaria was called Dolores, and names derived from abstract terms like Equidad (Equity) have never become fashionable to any significant extent in Spain. Surnames are made up of a patronymic (the father's surname) followed by a matronymic (the mother's surname), sometimes linked with y ("and"), which is a convenient way of distinguishing among members of the same family. Despite the patriarchal character of Spanish society in the past, married women usually kept their own surname for official purposes, adding de plus the husband's surname, though this latter custom is rapidly dying out.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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