There are a lot of folks out there from supposedly Christian families who, sadly, are not named after saints, virtues, or holy things. Not knowingly, anyway. (I’m pretty sure that anybody naming a child after a family member is trying to name him or her after a saint, however inchoately.) Instead of moaning and poning about this sad situation, we should make the best of it by looking into what their names really stand for.
For example, there are a lot of girls in this country named Tiffany because Tiffany is pretty, and because the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s was romantic. But surely Tiffany as a name has more roots than a jewelry store?
Of course. Tiffany is actually a very old name. Tiphaine is its French spelling (though it’s got occult associations in English, alas, since the medieval lord Bertrand du Guesclin’s canny wife Tiphaine was called by legend a fairy or witch). The name comes ultimately from the Greek “theophania”, theophany — an appearance or manifestation of God (as when God shows up at Abraham’s tent, or in the burning bush, etc.). As a name, however, it was traditionally given, in the Eastern Churches, to those born on the Feast of the Epiphany — which is called Theophania there, because Jesus showed Himself as God and Man to the Magi, and hence to all Gentiles; and also as a celebration of the Lord’s Baptism, when the Father and the Holy Spirit pointed out the Son.
On the Constantinople patriarchate’s site, you can see another example of this old name. In the Patriarch of Constantinople’s current home church, the relics of the ascetic Byzantine empress St. Theophano — St. Tiffany — are preserved. This is certainly a different image for the name Tiffany!
So here’s to the Tiffanies of the world. They bear a truly majestic name of great depth and significance.