A famous movie starring Audrey Hepburn.
Stained glass lamps.
A zillion little girls born in the eighties.
What do they all have to do with the glum looking gentlemen in the picture?
Today is the feast of the Epiphany, when the three wise men (or Magi) brought gifts to the baby Jesus. The word "epiphany" comes from two Greek words, epi ("to") and phainein ("show"), the idea being that with the visit of the wise men, Christ's divinity was being revealed or manifested to the greater world of the Gentiles (beyond the shepherds abiding in the fields).
But in the Middle Ages, there was also another word for the feast day, which combined phainein with the Greek word meaning "God": theos. Theophaneia meant "the showing of a God". In Old French, this got corrupted to "Tiphanie", and baby girls born on or near this feast day in the Middle Ages were often christened with this name.
Some people ended up with it as their surname, like the famous American jewellers and stained glass artists of the Tiffany family to whom we owe beautiful lamps such as this one:
But with the rise of Protestantism, it was no longer popular to name children after the feast days of the Catholic Church. Tiffany fell out of favour for centuries as a first name. Its resurgence in recent years is due to the immense popularity of the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's (and doubtless the doomed hope on the part of parents that their baby would grow up to be as beautiful and glamorous as its star, Audrey Hepburn).
When I used the term "zillion" above, I was speaking scientifically, as you can see from this listing on the US Social Security Administration's cool website about baby names, with "Tiffany" pretty firmly in the top twenty from 1980 to 1989. Significantly, it wasn't even in the top 1000 before 1962. But poor Tiffany. Looks like she's in freefall, beaten out by Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, and Ava and so many others.
Popularity of a Name
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