I have a strange obsession with Welsh mythology, language, and of course names. Something about classic Welsh names conjure the imagery of forests and meadows swaying in a gentle breeze. Ewig is one of these that just make me giddy. Ewig means “roe deer” or possibly “doe” and is pronounced AY-oo-wig. The roe deer gets its name comes from Proto-Indo-European root word rei which means “spotted”. It is possible that the name roe also stemmed from the ancient word for the color red.
The European or Western roe deer are a species of deer found throughout the Eurasian continent (there is also a Siberian roe deer of the Ural Mountains, China, and Siberia that is somewhat larger and is a distinctly separate species). They are primarily active in the twilight hours and will not venture into areas that house or have ever housed livestock because the grass is not suitable for consumption (talk about picky eaters). They are very vocal creatures and males have a differing voice than females whose voices are typically higher pitched. Adult roe deer are known to abandon their young if another animal or human has been near it.
Famously, the roe deer is recognizable as the character Bambi was one in the books Bambi, A Life in the Woods and Bambi’s Children by Felix Salten. This was of course before Walt Disney Studios decided to make the story into a feature film where they changed the title character to be a white-tailed deer in the North American wilderness because white-tails are more recognizable to the American public. A roe deer also played a pivotal role in the medieval legend of Genevieve or Brabant, a story that is said to be loosely based on Marie of Brabant, wife of Louis II. The story is of a woman who was falsely accused of infidelity and was sentenced to death. The executioner, however, showed her mercy and she took her son into the wilderness of Ardennes where a roe would bring them food. When it was discovered that the accusations against her were false, her husband went searching for her and the roe brought them together. The real life of Marie didn’t end so happily, but the legend has been referenced in several books and has been adapted into several plays, operas, and films in Europe.
As far as my research can find, Ewig is not popular in Wales and is relatively unheard of outside of its native country. Like many Welsh names, it may have pronunciation issues as if someone is not familiar with Welsh phonics they may pronounce EE-wig, but I don’t necessarily see it as a deterrent. Traditionally, this name is girl name and, despite the hard –ig ending, it does have a feminine feel. This is definitely an interesting choice that I would love to see in use.