Whether it’s based on your physical appearance, where you’re from, what you do, or how you smell, it won’t take long before your Peruvian friends slap a nickname on you. Here are just a few of the more creative ones I was assigned while I lived there.
“Gringo” – widely used all throughout Latin America, “Gringo” is the most popular term used by Peruvians for almost anyone from both North America and Europe.
“Zanajoria” – is both the Spanish word for carrot and also what you call someone that prefers a healthier lifestyle.
“Crudo” – literally translated, the word means “raw, uncooked.”
The use of nicknames in Peru can be really entertaining. I think I laughed until I cried the first time I heard someone call me “uncooked.” It can also be kind of offensive to a foreigner not accustomed to being called something based on a physical characteristic. Nicknames such as “gordo” (chubby), “flaco” (skinny), “chino” (Chinese), and “peludo” (hairy) are fairly commonplace. Using nicknames in Peru can also be absolutely necessary. When half of the male population is named Juan and the other half Jose, calling someone by their given name doesn’t get you very far.
In 1st century Palestine, the Hebrew name Yĕhôshúa (“Joshua” in English) would have been as popular as a name like Juan or Jose is in Peru. This name, which would later be transliterated into Greek as Ἰησοῦς (what becomes “Jesus” in English) was widely used because of the hope of salvation it expressed. God’s people named their children Joshua both to remember that He had delivered them from the Egyptians and in eager expectation of the promised Messiah who would deliver them for good from death, sin, and the devil.
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4: 12
On this day, the Church’s feast of the “Circumcision and Naming of Jesus,” we celebrate the name Jesus because it means what it says. Personal names in ancient Israel (like many nicknames today) actually communicated something about the person they were given to. The name Jesus means “God saves” (or more literally, “YHWH is salvation.”) because it was for us men and for our salvation that the Christ child was born!
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21