Its source is Matityah, a Hebrew name meaning "God's gift."
This boy's name is used in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.
According to Christian folklore, the disciple Matthew collected taxes before he followed Jesus. Jews of that period hated tax-gatherers, who were agents of Herod, the Roman puppet-king. By accepting Matthew, Jesus demonstrated his tolerance of all types of people.
In the Bible, however, Levi is the disciple who formerly collected taxes. While many disciples were known by two names -- Simon Peter, Judas Iscariot and Judas Thaddeus, for example -- there is no clear indication that Matthew and Levi were the same man.
This is similar to the case of Mary Magdalene, popularly believed to be an ex-prostitute though this is not said in the Bible. However, scriptural gaps are unlikely to threaten traditions that underscore the Christian doctrine of accepting people without regard to their past.