Or as my family might say “Να ζησης βγοα την εορτή σου Νικολ”.
I remember when me and my sister first learned of the concept of a ‘Name Day’, the first thing my sister asked was “Does this mean we get presents??”
In fairness, we were young. And for the first few years we got one present, when we remembered of course.
Since then when I’ve mentioned Name Days to friends, or they see something pop up on my Facebook timeline, I get the inevitable question.. “What’s a Name Day?”
Every time I give some version of the same answer. “Oh it’s something to do with the saints your name derives from and their death day.. possibly“. Essentially, I give a general idea based on my limited knowledge. However, recently I researched it further.
Being Greek myself I am very aware that anything – from recipes to language – can vary depending on where you go and who you’re talking to. However, this is what I have learned.
What I Knew
- Name Days represent a saint.
- Some people place a higher significance and celebration on name days than they do birthdays.
- I think it has something to do with the date of the saints death.
Nearly every day of the year is dedicated to a Christian saint. Apparently one of the reasons a name day is sometimes celebrated more than a birthday is because the Church promoted its celebration over birthdays, as birthdays were seen as a pagan tradition.
It would also seem that it isn’t just the Saint your name derives from, but if you are specifically named after that Saint. I wonder if this has changed somewhat throughout the years as less focus is placed on naming their children after saints or family members.
My Name Day
My name day is the 6th December, after St Nicholas.
I think depending on where you live or celebrate it could be on different days however, this is the day I acknowledge or would celebrate as my name day.
The date of his death is disputed however, it is traditionally recognised as 6th December.
Saint Nicholas is said to be the patron saint for more causes than any other saint. He is seen as a protector of various cities, churches, countries and classes.
I’ve linked the website of the St Nicolas Centre because they provide links which detail his patronage, and it’s a lot! Some examples include:
Armed Forces, Bakers, Bankers, Boatmen, Brides, Children, Falsely Accused, Grocers, Grooms, Infertile, Lawyers, Murderers, Pirates, Poets, Sailors, Scholars, Shopkeepers, Soldiers, Teachers, Thieves, Travellers, and not only is that just the people but that isn’t all of them.
You’ve probably heard of Saint Nicholas, or at least a version of him. He was said to be known for his generosity and kindness, and his charitable nature. He is said to have given gifts and performed miracles. He is still in some way known for that today, only nowadays he’s referred to as ‘Santa Claus’, ‘Father Christmas’ or ‘Jolly ol’ Saint Nick’.
So there isn’t a lot of information out there about Name Days. They’re traditions passed down within the family. I had always wondered why some celebrate the day more than a birthday, so that was interesting to me. Other than that, I suppose I knew more than I did however, I still wanted to post this as a nod to the day.
So, for today, Happy Name Day to all the Nicholas’, Nicks, Nicole’s, Nicola’s, Nicolette’s, Colette’s, Klaus’s and all other forms and variations of Nicholas’s out there.