Until I met my husband, I had no idea what a name day was. It was all very confusing. It isn’t a birthday, but the celebration is similar. I am bad enough at remembering birthdays, now I suddenly had to remember 2 celebrations for each person. So naturally a lot of questioning ensued. What is a name day? Why is it celebrated?
Name days honor the saint that you were named after. Or in some cases, if there isn’t saint that shares your name, you would celebrate All Saints Day. The date corresponds to the date that the saint died and therefore was born into heaven. A list of Greek name days can be found online, I found one list here. The tradition however is not confined to the Greek culture. It is celebrated in many countries and pays tribute to your given name.
In my husband’s family name days are celebrated like birthdays, with a card, a phone call and/or a special meal. And I have noticed that missing a name day is almost more sensitive than missing a birthday. Which as a newbie to the tradition I found really surprising. But I have definitely grown to understand the importance of the name day. After all, names are very important to our individual esteem and identity.
A side-note about the image in this post. My father-in-law’s name day is December 5th, Savas. We took the picture above at Windnsea beach in La Jolla, CA and made a handmade card for him last year.
Do you celebrate name days? How does your family celebrate?