No Socrates, Most Popular Names in Greece: Maria and Giorgos

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS - It sounds a bit like a parody like My Big Fat Greek Wedding where if you call out “Nick” or “George” at a Greek-American gathering almost every guy’s head will swivel in recognition, but Giorgos - along with Maria - are the names most Greeks are given.

Some 8.3 percent of men in Greece are named Giorgos and 8.3 percent of women, said the country’s statistical agency, ELSTAT, with Ioannis (or Yiannis) is second for men at 6.5 percent and Eleni for women or girls, at 5.2 percent.

Third for males is Dimitris at 6.4 percent while for females it’s Aikaterini or Katerina, with 3.7 percent. Fourth for males is Constantinos or Costas, with 6 percent while for females it’s Vassiliki, at 3.2 percent. In fifth came Nikolaos, at 5.7 percent among males and Sofia, at 2.3 percent among females.

Modern Greeks have long shunned ancient Greek names and are ultra-conservative when giving names, picking them after grandparents, which can set off arguments in families over whose should be given between married partners.

The spread of Christianity also turned Greeks away from the names of the past, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, hard to find among the populace today, and with some priests refusing to baptize children unless they have Christian names revered by the Greek Orthodox Church which still wields considerable power in Greece.