This article is reprinted from a series on names originally published in the year 1922. This one appeared in The North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune in North Platte, Nebraska, on June 23, 1922. For more stories from yesteryear, check out our ArchiveAmericana.com site.
Facts about your name: Its history, meaning, whence it was derived, significance, your lucky day and lucky jewel.
The charming name of Vivian is almost the equivalent of the adjective “vivacious.” It means lively, having been derived from the Latin vita, signifying life, and was used by the Roman Christians to express their hopes of eternity.
The first feminine name formed from vita is Vivia, a name made famous by Vivia Perpetua, the noble young matron of Carthage, whose martyrdom is one of the most touching histories of the early church. Her many votaresses gave vogue to her name.
In later Roman days, Viviana came to be popular through a Christian maiden of that name who was put to death by a Roman governor on the charge that she had destroyed the sight of one of his eyes by magic. Much later, a church was erected over her remains. Her fame and name lingered and appears prominently again in “Morte d’Arthur,” when Vivianna is the enchantress of King Arthur’s court.
Scotland took over the name of Vivian, applying it as both a masculine and feminine name. France adopted the masculine form as Vivien and straightaway formed the now-popular feminine Vivienne. England has always favored Vivian and America received and popularized the name under that spelling. Viviana is the favored form in Spain and Italy, the latter country still employing the early Roman Vivia.
Vivian’s talismanic gem is the life-giving ruby. Its inextinguishable flame promises her dauntless courage, bodily health and strength, and dispels evil spirits. To dream of it signifies unexpected guests. Friday is her lucky day and three her lucky number. The lily, signifying purity, is her flower.
Photo: Vaudeville performer Vivian Wyndham (1920-1925); photograph by Nickolas Muray.