Quick Facts on Mara
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- Ranking popularity:
Etymology & Historical Origin - Mara
Most people don’t realize but Mara is actually a Biblical name from the Hebrew “mara” meaning “bitter”. It is the name by which Naomi calls herself after returning to Judah following the death of her husband and two sons while living in Moab. Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth, accompanied her to Bethlehem and when the townspeople saw it was Naomi approaching they called out to their old neighbor: “Is this Naomi?” Naomi replies: “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20). Naomi is the Hebrew word for “pleasant” and Mara is the Hebrew word for “bitter”. Naomi asks her fellow Israelites: “Why call me Naomi when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” We think it’s fair to say Naomi is Mara (i.e., bitter). Just a wee bit. Don’t worry, though, things pick up for Naomi later on in the Book of Ruth. She nurses Ruth’s baby Obed who would later become the grandfather of Israel’s great King David, the same ancestral line belonging to the Messiah. Still, Naomi went through some tough times after losing her husband and children; we’ll just call those her “Mara” years. It’s unclear when Mara became popularized as a female given name, but we’re guessing it was originally an act of humility. In other words, Mara might have been the “bitter” name Naomi gave to herself when she felt like God had forsaken her when in fact He never left her side. Today Mara is quite popular in Spain and the Netherlands. It is also a high ranking name in Croatia where Mara is considered a diminutive of Marija (the Croatian form of Maria/Mary). Some folks also take Mara as a short form for names like Tamara, Samara or Amara. Lastly, we might also mention that Mara is the Irish word for “sea”, the Swedish word for “nightmare”, the name of a Hindu goddess of death and a Latvian goddess of earth.
Popularity of the Name Mara
Even though Mara is an ancient self-prescribed name used by Naomi more than (gasp) 3,000 years ago, it didn’t show up in America until 1950. Not only has Mara only been around for a little more than 60 years, this name has never been very popular. In fact, the highest position Mara ever reached on the charts was #539 in 1990. Low-moderation is the best Mara has ever known in terms of usage. We wonder if American parents are at all aware of the name’s negative Hebrew meaning in an overall positive Biblical story? Probably not. The Biblical reference is somewhat obscure. As we’ve mentioned above, Mara is a name with multiple potential meanings so there’s no need to swallow that one “bitter” pill. Mara is a short and simple, four-letter, two-syllable pretty little name. It’s not very common and a solid alternative to the more overplayed Mia, Mary, Maya or Mira.
Popularity of the Girl Name Mara
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Mara
Literary Characters of the Baby Name Mara
Mara We cannot find any significant literary characters with the first name Mara.
Popular Songs on Mara
Mara - a song by Country Joe and the Fish
Children's Books on the Baby Name Mara
Mara (Richard Denney) - Mara, a high school dancer, begins to mentally unravel when she starts to hear a voice telling her to what to do and who to kill. Recommended for ages 16+
Mara's Stories: Glimmers in the Darkness (Gary Schmidt) - A testament to the power of stories, and how they may bring hope even in times of darkness. As night falls, the women gather their children to listen to Mara tell her stories. They are stories of light and hope and freedom, stories of despair and stories of miracles, stories of expected pain and stories of unexpected joy--all told in the darkness of the concentration camp barracks. Through extensive research noted in the back of the book, Gary Schmidt has skillfully woven together stories from such sources as the Jewish religious scholar, Martin Buber; Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel; and folklorists, Steve Zeitlin and Yaffa Eliach. Combining lore of the past with tales born in the concentration camps, Mara's stories speak to us from a time that must never be forgotten. Recommended for ages 10-14.
Mara, Daughter of the Nile (Eloise Jarvis McGraw) - Mara is a proud and beautiful slave girl who yearns for freedom. In order to gain it, she finds herself playing the dangerous role of double spy for two arch enemies - each of whom supports a contender for the throne of Egypt. Recommended for ages 16+
Famous People Named Mara
Famous People Named Mara - Mara Wilson (child actress); Mara Santangelo (Italian tennis player)
Children of Famous People Named Mara
Famous People Who Named Their Daughter Mara - We cannot find any celebrities or famous people who have named their child Mara.
Mara - Girl Baby Name - Historic Figures
Mara - We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Mara.
Personality of the Girl Name Mara
Romance is the hallmark of the Six personality. They exude nurturing, loving, and caring energy. Sixes are in love with the idea of love in its idealized form - and with their magnetic personalities, they easily draw people toward them. Like the number Two personality, they seek balance and harmony in their life and the world at large. They are conscientious and service-oriented, and a champion for the underdog. These personalities naturally attract money and are usually surrounded by lovely material objects - but their human relationships are always primary. They thrive in giving back to others rather than being motivated by their own desires. This is when they achieve great things. Sixes are natural teachers, ministers and counselors.
Variations of the Baby Name - Mara