Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Santy Name

Today I found out that "Santy" is a virulent computer worm! Well, for the record, I can state that I know nothing about computers, worms, or computer viruses. However, I do know something of the Santy name and can tell you a bit about its origin.

"Santy" is actually a shortened Italian name. My father told the story that when he entered the Marines in WWII, his drill instructor ordered him to shorten it so that it was pronouncable. Hence the original name "Santanastassia" became "Santy". I don't know how true this story is, but some of my relatives spell the name "Santi" and some "Santy". The original Italian was likely "Sant'Anastasia" --or Saint Anastasia.

On the northern slopes of Mt. Vesuvius is a village called St. Anastasia. This is near to Naples where my grandfather was born, and it is likely that at one point our relatives came from that village. In the past, it was common in parts of Europe for the surname to come from the village or town a person was from. My mother's family (Rizzi) came from Bari, Italy, so both sets of grandparents were naturalized American citizens, with my parents being 1st generation American citizens.

St. Anastasia was a very interesting saint (see here) and is associated with Christmas since she was martyred (by beheading) on December 25th sometime in the 4th century in Rome. She is commemorated in the 2nd mass of Christmas, and was once considered an important Italian saint.

My only regret is that my father shortened the name, since I think it is rather a special thing for our family to be named after a saint. As opposed to a computer virus!

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