Just came across an article online, about a proposal to the Swedish government to make it easier to legally change your name. That made me stop and read as I was thinking; “how can they make it any easier, it’s already easy?”
It’s not unusual for people to change their family name there. In a way, I can understand that. It’s a small country, with only 9 million citizens … that’s about the same as the province of Quebec here. Since some time in the 1800s they’ve used the patronymic system which has resulted in that 241,685 people bear the proud name Johansson. That was also my name before we married. The top ten most common names there are all -son names:
So … when your name is Maria Johansson you don’t have much of a chance to stand out 🙂 My paternal grandfather’s name was Solomonson, but for some reason my father got Johansson. I don’t know why and he’s not around so I can ask him.
Changing your family name is easy. They have a booklet with suggestions, and you can go online and make up a new name with the help of prefixes and suffixes — it’s like making up a screen name or something like that. If you’ve done genealogy, you could also take a name, three generations back in your ancestry. Like I said, this thing with -son names only started as late as end of 1800, and they had much cooler name before that. Take ‘Hernodius’ as an example … that would imply that it’s a person from Härnösand, my hometown … with a Latinization.
This would cost you approximately $200 +the costs involved in getting a new passport, drivers licence et cetera.
Changing your first name only costs a few bucks. According to this proposal it will now be possible to take also the common names like Johansson. Before, you had to prove that you had a close connection if you wanted to take an existing name. If I would have wanted to change my name to Hoeckert, which was my maternal great grandmother’s name, it would have been fairly easy … that was three generations. But to go farther back, you’d have to consult with living bearers of the name in question and they’d have to approve.
In this article, they also say that it will get easier to change your first name. I don’ t know how, they didn’t elaborate on that. However, it reminded me of a waiter in a restaurant where I lived for a while … his name was Ahmed Karlsson. He had adopted his wife’s family name because he wanted to assimilate into the Swedish society. I don’t know how that worked out for him, with a name like that. Perhaps it will get easier now.