SALVADORAN NAMES AND BIRTHDAYS
We TRY to remember before interviewing a candidate for our story project two questions:
Can you spell your full name for us; and what is your date of birth?
Can you spell your full name for us?
This may seem silly but understand that in El Salvador as in other Hispanic countries, the extended family plays a significant role. Therefore the names of those families stay with a person throughout his/her life. Other names are added to the end of one’s original name so a name can easily become 5 names!
Here is how it works:
Celia Maria (both first names) Garcia Rodriquez
Garcia is her father’s surname; Rodriquez is her mother’s surname
She will be known as Celia Maria Garcia.
If she marries, her husband’s surname will be added at the end such as:
Celia Maria Garcia Rodriquez Hernandez
However, her primary last name will remain Garcia.
Another name consideration is that many Salvadorans continue to use their “war names” which they took at the time of the civil war to protect their true identity. Many want those names listed in their stories.
Here is an example:
Maria Ofelia Navarrete/ Maria Chichilco (war name.)
(Often we simply ask the storyteller to write down on the legal pad the name he or she prefers us to use.)
What is your date of birth?
Again, this may sound like a quick and easy answer as we can easily spout off our birthday without even thinking. WELL, not so easy for many of these people.
Here are some of the answers we have heard repeated by many folks!
“I was actually born on July 25rd but in the official records, it is July 23rd. All the birth records in our town were burned during the civil war.”
“May 26th is my real birth date but city hall records have it recorded as July 15th because it took that long for my family to find transportation to get there to record it.”
“I was born on May 25th but we were poor peasants and my dad couldn’t register my birth until May 27th.”
“I don’t know my birth date because soldiers kidnapped me as an infant.”
This girl was kidnapped as a baby.