People often comment on my first name, Vanda, because it is not a common name. Europeans I’ve met tell me that it is a variant of Wanda. I’ve been told it is a Polish name. However when I googled it just now to see if I could find out a bit more another website (http://www.ourbabynamer.com/meaning-of-Vanda.html) says it is of Italian origin. That is a new one on me! Funnily enough as a child I was sometimes taken for Italian because of my dark hair and eyes. What both versions seem to agree on is that it means “Wanderer” and originally referred to Slavic migrants.
I am sure my mother knew little of this when she chose it although it was from her that I first learned it was a Polish name. We have no Polish blood that I’m aware of. Both my parents were born in England and so were my grandparents except for my paternal grandmother who was born in Canada.
My mother had a particular reason for calling me Vanda though. On her mother’s side of the family girls names were often passed down through the generations there were several Annie’s, May’s, Rosemary’s etc. Mum didn’t want to do that. She didn’t want me to have one of the girls names that were popular at the time either so names such as Susan, Mary and Debbie were ruled out. Finally she wanted a name that could not be shortened.
She decided to look to fiction for a name as she was fond of reading. Her first choice for a daughter’s name was Bramble. She chose this before she was married but thankfully for me she married a man whose surname started with a “B” so she decided that it would sound odd and the child would be teased. When she was pregnant with me she read a novel in which one of the characters was called Vanda. She liked that so that was the name I was given.
Mum’s first objective worked out. I have never personally met another Vanda which meant that I have spent most of my life explaining how to spell it and where it came from. Her second one was not so easy, especially after we moved to Australia where all names are shortened, or if they are already short, lengthened, as a matter of course. My school years were spent saying “No, I would rather you did not call me Van or Vandy.” I was sometimes called “Verandah” which was considered very amusing even though most kids couldn’t spell that either.
I like my name though. I like being a bit different and I have the spelling routine down to a fine art now. “Think of panda but with a “V”. Did I mention that “Vanda the Panda” was another school nickname?