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Winterstein Coat of Arms / Winterstein Family Crest

This German, Dutch and Norgwegian surname of WINTERSTEIN is of varying origins. It was a name given to one born during this time of the year. Medieval houses often had their walls painted from biblical, historical, romantic or allegorical subjects, such as the representation of winter, if one of the family were born at this time. It was also a nickname which was applied to someone with a gloomy or frosty temperament. The name was adopted by Ashkenazic Jewish peoples from the German name WINTER, either as an ornamental name or one of the group of surnames which were distributed at random by government officials. Other spellings of the name include WYNTER, VINTER, WINTERLE, WINTERLEIN, WINTERBERG and WYNTERS. There are many German-Jewish names which are merely the results of fancy or the vindictive thoughts of petty officials, adopted when the Jews in Europe were compelled to take surnames in the early part of the nineteenth century. Some of the most familiar include STEIN (stone) usually meaning a precious gem. Many who adopted names with pleasant connotations had to pay handsomely to the money-grabbing official for the privilege. Many other names were from names of German towns and cities, and are sometimes borne by other than Jews. From the 16th century many Jewish family names were derived from the house or shop signs in the Jewish quarter of Frankfort and elsewhere. House signs were particularly favoured by Jews, and they were reluctant to give them up. When the city council in 1776, ordered the houses in Frankfort's Judengasse to be numbered, there was such a resistance that they fined the whole Jewish community. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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