NEW YORK – Nicholas Soukeras and his wife, Xenia, are expecting a baby, and they’ve been fighting ever since they learned that their first child will be a boy. They cannot agree on a name.
The Greek-American wants to name his first son after his father, Spyridon, but his Belarus-born spouse wants to name him Michael, after her late father.
Fighting about it through the night has cost them many hours of sleep, but Nicholas stands his ground saying the Spyridon name is as ancient as the Parthenon itself.
“I don’t want to call my son something I can’t even pronounce,” Xenia (her name is Greek, ironically) countered. He said she is unaware of the illustrious history of the name, carried by 1896 Athens Olympics winner Spyridon Louis and many Greeks since, but the name Michael just doesn’t work for him.
He said his Russian-speaking wife would call the child “Mischa,” a name that is just too B-Hollywood movie, the New York Post noted.
Although each one has strong arguments and is adamant, they agreed post a petition on the internet to decide the issue.
The site is: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/godly-right-to-name-first-born-son-spyridon. If the father manages to gather a hundred thousand signatures, the newborn will be named Spyridon.
While Soukeras insists that he entitled to choose the child’s first name, he says his wife can chose its middle name.
The internet campaign took on larger proportions after local media reported extensively on the dispute.
“It was not an easy matter; it is a painful affair. Now that that it has gotten publicity, its looks like a joke, but it is a very serious matter,” Soukeras told TNH.
He was born and raised in Astoria and lives in the same building as his parents, Spyridon and Anne, as well as his sister, Joanna and her husband, Aristotle.
Soukeras met his wife – who is an Orthodox Christian, removing one potential ground for disagreements – in 2009, and he graciously married Xenia in the Belarusian Orthodox Church October 2013.
The couple lives in Astoria and had visited Corfu, where they even venerated the relics of Saint Spyridon, the island’s patron saint.
“Xenia wants to name our son Michael in memory of her father who had been killed before she was fifteen, but I want to give him the name of my father, not only because of our tradition, but also because it a very nice but rare name in America. She claims it is difficult for Americans to pronounce but I recall that Americans are familiar with the name Spiros from the time of Spyridon Theodore Agnew, who was vice president of the U.S. So you can see how complex the issue is,” he said.
Soukeras said his father and his sister want to call the boy Spyridon, while his mother Anne is for Xenia’s view. The best man, who will also be the child’s godfather, is on Soukeras’ side.
By April 13 more than 240 people have weighed in on the website, which Soukeras told the Post started out as a lark.
He knows it will be difficult to collect 100,000 signatures, but he noted they have plenty of time ahead of them until August 8, which is the due date.
Perhaps they can light a candle and pray for guidance at the shrine of St. Xenia at the Church of the Annunciation on the Upper West Side.