Friday, November 25, 2016

What's in a Name?

So a few people guessed it, but our new daughter's name will be Johanna! Yes, Liz and Aunt Kathy, you'll be getting a prize from China! Anyway, here's the story on our girl's name...

Zack came home one evening and said he had a name idea from a song he had heard in the car...Joanna. I immediately dismissed it, claiming that it sounded too much like an "old-lady name." But the next day, for whatever reason, I looked up the name's meaning and realized it had the same meaning as Jonas, which is "gift from God." Some websites also say it means "God is gracious." So that was pretty cool and appropriate.

Joanna is one of the only named women in the New Testament of the Bible. She was one of the first to witness the empty tomb and declare the resurrection of Jesus. And she's a saint. But what I soon noticed and got kind of excited about was a form of the name Joanna...Johanna. Hannah was one of my very top name choices, but I don't like how it seems to have become pretty popular in recent years. Johanna has the "Hanna" in it without being too overused, and it has the "Jo" part to go along with her brother's name, Jonas.

I researched the name Johanna a bit more and found out that Bob Dylan has a song called "Visions of Johanna." Dylan is probably Zack's favorite musical artist ("Dylan" was even in the running for a boy's name before we chose "Jonas"), so I knew that was a plus. The next day, I told Zack that I was on board with the name Johanna instead of Joanna, and I found out that he actually already knew about the Bob Dylan song (of course!). We also looked up the original song he had heard in the car, which is called "A-Punk" by a group we like called Vampire Weekend, and go figure, the lyrics are actually about a girl named Johanna, not Joanna!

Later that night, I suddenly remembered something that pretty much sealed the deal. When we lived in Australia for two years, both of our Christmas holidays were very special. In 2012, we were touring around the South Island of New Zealand, and it was on that trip, unbeknownst to us at the time obviously, that both of our children were born! But in 2011, we camped on a beach along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. We basically had the entire gorgeous beach to ourselves, and we had an amazing time there. Guess the name of the beach? Yep, Johanna Beach! What are the chances? So that's the Australian connection, though I do like the "joey" explanation some guessed! By the way, all of the pictures in this blog post are from Johanna Beach.

A few days later, I had a strange feeling that I remembered the name Johanna from my research a few years back on So I looked it up, and guess what? My great-great grandma's name (on my mother's side) was named Johanna! Her father's name was Johannes. I've also got a great-great-great grandma named Johanna, who isn't related to the other one, and her father's name (my great-great-great-great grandpa) was Joannes. They were all from Holland, as in the Netherlands, and I grew up in Holland, Michigan. Anyway, this Johanna and Jonas thing goes way back in my family!

So, with all of these "signs," Johanna it is! I do worry that some people will spell/say it wrong, getting it confused with Joanna, but such is life. For those who don't know, it's pronounced like Joe-Hannah. We can't wait to get our little Johanna home!


  1. Well how prophetic! And in calling JoJo to come in and eat, you were really calling your "fraternal twins" Jonas and Johanna to come join you.

  2. The name is perfect for your daughter now that you've explained all the connections. And I love Ray's previous comment about "fraternal twins."

  3. Whoops! I reread the "JoJo" comment and it was Zack's Dad who should get the credit, not Ray. Sorry!