These were the most popular German baby names in 2021

Popular German baby names offered a surprise winner in the boy's category in 2021, a new winner in the girl's category, while a Covid-related name also enjoyed an inexplicable bump in popularity.

Babies at a hospital in Saxony-Anhalt
Babies at a hospital in Saxony-Anhalt in 2017. Photo: dpa | Waltraud Grubitzsch

Emilia and Matteo were the most popular names given to German babies in 2021, both of them reaching the top of the rankings for the first time.

A list compiled by amateur researcher Knud Bielefeld was published on Thursday after his small team sifted through around a third of all the birth certificates issued this year.

Emilia has been slowly climbing through the rankings, meaning its win wasn’t such a surprise, Bielefeld said.

“Matteo, on the other hand, has gone very steeply uphill. He wasn’t even in the top ten two years ago and now he’s already at number one, which is very unusual,” he added.

Both names fit well into the German naming landscape, Bielefeld said.

“Especially with Emilia, many similar names come to mind. Ella, Emma, Emily. Matteo also has many similar names that we’ve known for a while. Mattis, Matthias or Mats. The names are already very familiar, but also have a little something new,” he explained.

But Bielefeld struggled to explain the quick rise of Matteo.

“I haven’t found any event. I’m also not aware of any particular role model in radio, television, media or sports,” he said.

The other names in the top tens held few surprises. Among girls, Emilia was followed by Hannah, Mia, Emma and Sophia. Among the boys, Noah, Leon, Finn and Elias made up the top 5.

“These are all the names that have been in the top 10 for a while,” said Bielefeld.

One interesting inclusion though was the name Luca.

“Luca is interesting,” Bielefeld said, adding that he questioned whether parents would stop naming their children Luca because of the Luca app, which millions of Germans currently use to check in at restaurants for contact tracing purposes.

Smartphone with Covid apps

A smartphone screen shows a number of Covid-related apps. The name Luca has remained a popular boy’s name, despite the unpleasant associations of the Luca app. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Dernbach

“But that hasn’t happened. If anything, the name has become even more popular this year.”

This year, Luca landed at number eight, up from 12 or 13 in previous years. The summer also saw the release of an animated film from Pixar Studios called “Luca” on the Disney+ streaming service.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to bring up a child in Germany?

In contrast, the popularity of Greta has slumped. The name, famously that of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, no longer seems to have the attraction it once had.

“The year before last, Greta was still at number 30. It plummeted to 130th last year and this year it went even further downhill. Greta is down to number 200.”

Basic trends regarding parents’ choice of names in the different regions of Germany have remained the same.

“In southern Germany, names that are actually out of fashion are more common,” Bielefeld explained. The reason for this, he says, is that names are more often passed down from generation to generation in the south. Examples include Annika, Nina, Franziska, Sebastian, Matthias and Dominik.

In northern Germany, Scandinavian and Frisian names such as Ava, Jetta, Lena, Jonte, Joris and Piet are over-represented.

According to Bielefeld, there are two trends in eastern Germany.

“On the one hand, retro names are popular there. And the other trend is English and American names,” he says.

SEE ALSO: How much does it cost to bring up a child in Germany?

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Germany to raise child benefits for families with up to three children

After facing criticism from the opposition conservatives, Germany's traffic-light coalition has extended a hike in child benefits to families with up to three children.

Germany to raise child benefits for families with up to three children

Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) confirmed on Wednesday that a planned increased in child benefits would also apply to families with three children.

“The child benefit for the third child will be equalised, i.e. increased to the same level as the child benefit for the first two children,” Family Minister Lisa Paus told DPA on Wednesday. “This means that there will be €237 per month for the first, second, and third child.”

In a set of energy relief measures unveiled Sunday, the traffic-light coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens, and Free Democrats (FDP) announced plans to increase child benefits (Kindergeld) by €18 per month for the first two children.

However, the coalition’s plans came under sharp criticism from the opposition conservatives, who argued that families with more children were being ignored in the government’s relief package.

Silvia Breher (CDU), the family policy spokesperson of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, said people with three or more children were being left “empty-handed” by the government’s plans.

Meanwhile, Bavaria’s Family Minister Ulrike Scharf (CSU) claimed that the federal government had forgotten about large families.

Currently, families receive monthly payments of €219 per child for the first and second child, €225 for the third child, and €250 for any additional children. 

From January 1st, 2023, this will be increased to €237 per child for the first three children. The amount given for four or more children will remain the same.

Alongside the hike in child benefit payments, the government is also set to provide a one-off heating allowance to housing benefit recipients to assist with the soaring cost of energy bills.

READ ALSO: What’s in Germany’s support package for rising energy bills?

This additional payment will then be factored into a rise in housing benefits from 2023. 

Under the measures set out in the latest energy relief package, pensions are also set for a one-off €300 boost, while students will receive €200 to help with the rising cost of living.