Latino culture

A to Z Challenge: N is for Nina

parents awaiting baptism, photo by @gardient for


Today’s letter can be confusing. It’s an N which is short for a P word.

N is for Nina, which is the slang word for Godmother in Spanish; Nino is Godfather.

This is not to be confused with the word “niña,” where the tilde (~) over the ‘n’ means “little girl.”

The correct word for Godparents is Padrinos. (I know this further complicates the letter N).

It may be that a child can’t say the entire word “Padrin/a,” so he/she shortened it to “Nina” or “Nino.”

To be a godmother/godfather is to be chosen.

Parents of an infant, in the Catholic faith, chose a man and woman (who must also be Catholic by baptism) to preside over the upbringing of their infant if they die.

The main responsibility is to bring the child up as a Catholic. In effect, the padrinos are the spiritual parents. But, the ninas and ninos also partake in the baptismal ceremony and host the baptismal celebration.

If you’re Latina you aren’t necessarily Catholic, especially in the last thirty years, so this custom is no longer as popular as before.

So now, if you hear someone, under thirty years of age called Nina, it’s probably her birth name.