There are times when Pappa Kas and I recognize that the cultural differences between Spain/ The Basque Country and Norway are bigger than what we originally thought.
It is not necessarily a bad thing, we are able to pick the best from both worlds and add some Scottish customs for good measure (from our time there). This means we can drink wine at lunchtime while eating deep fried mars bars – if we choose to. There list of benefits are inextinguishable.
Growing up in a small family I am now happy being part of a typical Latin extended family. It seems like the whole population over 70 in the Basque town of Elorrio has become my tio, tia or abouela (granny) regardless of family ties. Can you have too many nice aunties? They feed you and pinch your cheek no matter if you are three or thirty. I also find some of their customs rather amusing. Before we became pregnant with Little H, one of our tia’s insisted on always feeding me crusts as it supposedly is good for the fertility. My friends back home found it hilarious. Does it work? Who knows?
Back to the point: When choosing a name for Little H we felt challenged. The list of criteria’s were long and we had to chose a name which could easily be spelt, pronounced and recognized as a girl’s name in most parts of the world (European and Latin countries at least).
Hanna was on the shortlist and got chosen unanimously by the family board (Papa Kas and myself) although it presented some challenges with pronunciation for the Castro’s, Uribarren’s and the Reta’s. They have all been practicing and it now sounds a lot more like Hanna, than Anna, as their H at the start of a word, usually is silent.
When it came to surnames I understood that a family name is serious business in Spain and you cannot mix and match the way you prefer. It is set in stone and cannot be changed. What do they do if their name means something offensive in let’s say Norwegian? Or is unaware of who is their dad and will then be shamed to only having one surname? … I see many difficulties here….
So when it comes to surnames in the Basque region the rule is that upon your birth you get two surnames, your mums and your dads. Easy peasy with our little H then, Hanna Castro (as her dad) Nyhus (as her mum). Hanna Castro Nyhus, not bad at all we agreed.
Then came the form from the public registrar to fill in so that Little H would become “official” with her own personnel number and all. Here we got in trouble. As the two surnames are equally significant in Spain, there is no middle name. Here in Norway, Castro would be Hanna’s middle name to her dad’s despair if we did not link the two surnames together. So officially we now have a daughter with the name Hanna Castro-(hyphen)Nyhus. And we like it! It gives her an extra flair when we have to give her name, doesn’t it?