The Meaning of Lorelei

This week we celebrated Lorelei’s first birthday.  My wife and I couldn’t agree on a name that we both really liked until we came up with Lorelei.

We first heard the name because of Lorelai Gilmore from the TV show The Gilmore Girls.  This TV character was smart, witty, fun loving, adventurous, and independent. All values that Katy and I hold dearly.  And plus, the name sounded cool.

Turned out the name Lorelei has quite an interesting history.  The name Lorelei comes from a  large rock formation on a bend in the Rhine River in Germany.  This has traditionally been a dangerous spot for sailors and Lorelei, perched on this rock formation, would lure navigators of this river to their  watery doom with her alluring singing.

The legend was popularized by the German-Jewish writer Heinrich Heine in the poem Die Lorelei. During World War II, the Nazis tried to stamp out all Jewish cultural remnants, but this poem proved to be too popular.  Instead, Heine’s name was taken off as author of the poem and replaced with “author unknown.” Heine is famous for saying “where they burn books, they will burn people,” and this quote can be found at Yad Veshem and the U.S. Holocaust museum.

The name Lorelei has also popped up quite a bit in pop culture.  Lorelei is a comic book hero on a few different fronts.  In  the Lorelei series, she is  “A redheaded angel of vengeance who preys on those who would prey on the weak.” In Thor, Lorelei is a Norse God whoes “great beauty and seductive manner enable her to persuade virtually any male god or mortal to do whatever she wants”

In pop music, two Lorelei songs stick out (though there are quite a bit more).  Styx’s 1976 song, Lorelei, made it no. 27 in the charts and Ella Fitzgerald had a hit song called Lorelei too.  I like the Ella song much better.

Finally, Marlyn Monroe’s character in Some Like It Hot was named Lorelei. This film was named the greatest comedy of all time by the American Film Institute.


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