February 2nd : Gyertyaszentelő or Karolina

Karolina Tima Szabó

In Hungary, every name has a day in the year.  Name days are tied to the life and/or the deeds of a saint.  Karolina’s saint is Charles the Great.  He was a king of the Franks, the Lombards and Emperor of Rome in the 8th and 9th centuries.  His greatness came from uniting Western and Central Europe.

To go back to fifty plus years-ago, on February 2nd every year I went to the piac (outdoor market) and bought a bouquet of violets for my mother, for her name day.

But where did her name came from?

First, I found Karola, and it is a female version of Károly.  It is said Károly came from the German Karl, meaning boy or young man.  Another version is that it came from the Latin Carolus, meaning boy, young man.

To me most likely it came from the combination of two names, Carolus and the old Hungarian name Karuly, meaning karvaly (sparrow hawk), or turul (the Hungarian mythical eagle).

There are many versions of the name Karola, and it is not a very common name; in the 2000’s, it didn’t make it to the list of first 100 names.

Karola is very intuitive, she finds her own way, rarely shows her feminist side.  Related names are Karla, Karolin, Rola, Rolika, Rolácska.  Famous Karolas in Hungary are Csűrös Karola – actress; Ágai Karola – opera-singer.

Karolina is just the name Karola extended.  Nicknames for Karolina are Karcsi(ka), Kari(ba), Kári(ka), Karla, Karola, Karolácska, Karolin(ka), Karolincsi, Karus(ka), Lia, Liácska, Lici(ke), Licus(ka), Lina, Linácska, Lincsi(ke), Lini(ke), Linka, Linuca, Linuci(ka), Linus(ka), Lola, Lolácska.

Famous Karolina’s are: Hungarian long-distance runner, Karolina Szabo; Karolina Kurkova, Czech model; and Karolina Protsenko– 11 year-old violinist from Los Angeles, CA.

Other versions of the name are Caroline, Carolyn. Caroline is a classic name, meaning “beautiful woman” in Italian; in French it means “strong”.  It is a more common name: since 1994, it has been in the top 100, 47th word-wise, 55th in the U.S.

Famous Caroline’s are Caroline Grimaldi – Princess of Monaco, and Caroline Kennedy.  Common nicknames and variations include Carol, and Carrie.

Carolyn means “song of happiness”, from the word “Carol”; once you had found her, she will always be in your heart.

Let me spend some time on the name Károly.  It is a very common name in Hungary.  (It was my grandfather’s name as well.)  But there is another version of the origin of this name.  It said that it comes from the Turkic Karul, which is equivalent to the English Charles.

Károly loves nature, looks for outdoor jobs, has a problem in expressing his thoughts and feelings, that’s why some may think that he is cold and unfriendly.  

Hungarian nicknames of Károly are Károlyka, Kari, Karcsi, Karcsika, Karesz.

The Karl and Charles names are so popular, many languages have their own versions: Charles (French, English), Karl (German, Swedish), Carlo (Italian), Carlos (Spanish, Portuguese), Karol (Polish), etc…

There were many famous Károlys in Hungary: Ferenczy Károly – painter; Kisfaludy Károly – author/poet; Lotz Károly – painter; Markó Károly – painter.

Famous Charles/Karl are: IV.Károly, the last king of Hungary; Karl Marx – philosopher; Karl Friedrich Benz – German engine designer, automobile engineer;  Charles Darwin-naturalist; Charles I and II of England; Charles V. Holy Roman Emperor; Charles Dickens - author; Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle –  statesman of France; Charlie Chaplin – actor.

All the versions of Karl or Karola have their own dates of the year in the Hungarian Calendar.

But if your name is Karola, Karolina, Caroline, Carolyn, Károly, Charles or Karl, and you celebrate it on February 2nd, happy name day to you!

Karolina Tima Szabo is a retired Systems Analyst of the Connecticut Post newspaper and Webmaster of Magyar News Online.  She is the proud grandmother of two.