The predominantly Islamic version of the popular girls’ name has grown 70 percent last year alone, entering the list of Sweden’s most popular names for newborns for the first time.
Maryam has taken Sweden by storm, becoming one of the seven new entries to the list of the Nordic country’s top-100 girls’ names, according to a press-release by Statistics Sweden, ahead of the release of the full figures later in February.
Having grown by 70 percent in 2017 alone, Maryam was propelled straight into 78th place, leap-frogging other new entrants, such as Noomi, Hedvig, Mira, Zoey, Idun, and Melina.
Overall, no fewer than 177 Maryams were born in Sweden, a nation of 10 million, in 2017.
“It’s the fastest-growing name for girls but I don’t know why,” Margareta Carlsson of Statistics Sweden told The Local news outlet. “I can’t see a celebrity named Maryam. I don’t have any guess even,” she added. In 2015, the name Saga shot from 21st to fourth most popular name, which was attributed to the immense popularity of the Nordic Noir epic The Bridge, which featured a heroine named Saga Norén, she reminded.
Maryam is the form of the biblical name Mary, as in the mother of Jesus, in Arabic, Farsi, Somali, and a plethora of other languages, and is popular among the Middle East and North Africa, which is predominantly Muslim. Maryam holds a singularly exalted place in Islam as the only woman named in the Quran. In the Christian culture, Maryam occurs in Georgia and Armenia.
In the recent years, Sweden received well over 200,000 asylum seekers, the majority of which came from Muslim nations, such as Syria, Iraq and Somalia. A 2009, that is before the migrant crisis, US report numbered up to 500,000 Muslims in Sweden (or around 5 percent) of the total population of the Nordic nation that takes pride in its tolerant and multicultural ways.
In today’s Sweden, the most well-known bearers of the name include MP Maryam Yazdanfar, documentary filmmaker Maryam Ebrahimi and basketball player Maryam Gültekin.
For the sake of comparison, Mohamed, arguably the most common male Muslim name, made it into the list of most popular names for newborns in Sweden several years ago, reaching 35th place in 2016. In reality, though, its spread may be much higher, due to multiple spelling variants.
On the boy side of the list, Matteo became the fastest-growing name, seeing a 33-percent rise in 2017.
Alice retained last year’s spot as the most popular girls’ name in Sweden with 888 newborns, followed by Alicia with 675.
Democracy Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke and Hollywood actress Alicia Vikander are the most famous bearers of the name and the likeliest inspiration.
William, the perennial favorite of the recent decades, regained its place as the most popular boys’ name for the seventh time since 1998, with 941 newborns, dethroning last year’s winner Oscar.