What's in a surname?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The vast majority of women still take their husbands surname after marriage.

So, where does the tradition of taking the husband’s surname come from and how has it evolved over the years?

This tradition goes back many hundreds of years, to patriarchal times when it was almost unquestioned that a woman would take on the husband’s name. However, since then we’ve certainly seen a lot of change.

Across Western Europe, even if a bride might socially take on their spouse’s name, people keep their maiden names for life. In China the tradition of changing a name after marriage is not commonplace, and in Russia it is very uncommon to take on a new surname after the wedding.

In the Spanish-speaking world, it is very common to adopt both the mother’s and father’s name, and give their children a double-barrelled name.

What about in Australia?

Australia is quite conservative, with more than 80% of brides taking on the groom’s surname. About 10% of women keep their own name and this number is growing, particularly as women study later, engage in more education, and get established in their career longer before getting married.

Watch the full interview including real-life case studies below.

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