Created by Administrator Account in 12/30/2009 3:06:32 PM


I would like to know if my Polish last name Parada is Jewish.

It could be, but it is not necessarily Jewish. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 974 Polish citizens by that name. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 50, Chelm 128, Katowice 70, Kielce 141, Lublin 63. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, so I can't tell you how to find that info. This data tells us the name is found all over Poland, with no significant concentration in any one area.

The point is, after the Holocaust, there are no exclusively Jewish surnames borne by more than a few dozen people, at most. If a name is borne by more than 900 people in modern Poland, it's certain the vast majority are Christians. If it were a Jewish name, you might find 9 or 90 people still living with that name in Poland today -- but not 900!

In Polish PARADA is pronounced roughly "pah-RAH-dah" -- or much the same way as if it were a Spanish name. Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from the noun parada, "show, exhibition, ceremony, pomp" -- in other words from the same origin as our word "parade." It is thought to have come from Old French parade, "exhibition," from parer, "to embellish," from Latin parare, to "prepare."

There is no reason a specific Jewish family couldn't have gone by this name. It's one of the many that Christians or Jews could bear -- there's no particular reason it has to be associated with one religion or another. So you can't tell the religion from the name. You'd have to research the family history to find information establishing that. (And, of course, PARADA doesn't have to be Polish; this particular name can exist in many different languages. But I assume you have reason to believe it is Polish in your case.)

Copyright © 2003, 2004 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.