Ever heard of a “Name Day”?
Today, 25 November, is my “Name Day”. Katerina. My second name which I got from my Greek grandmother. In Greece everyone celebrates his/her “Name Day” of the saint (Agios in Greek) that bears the same name. Around 88% of the Greek population is Christian Orthodox or Christian. This happens because customs, traditions and religion are so much intertwined with each other, that they have become one. The way Greeks live and celebrate.
The day is usually celebrated that a saint died for Jesus, by sacrificing him/herself or did something special. People who bear the name of the saint are said to have their “Name Day”. A very important day! Most people know that it is the day of that saint. As a result, when it is your “Name Day” everybody will congratulate you with ‘Χρόνια πολλά!’ (Many years!). You receive gifts from friends and family. It is really your party!
The person that has his/her “Name Day” will treat everyone either at school or work with delicacies, glyka. The same treats which you can find at Chove.
In case at work or at school you have several people who carry the same name, expect to receive from everyone glyka. Maybe an extra gym session calling after so many treats ;) Or better! In Greece it is a custom, that the eldest son/daughter will get the name of the grandfather/mother. Which means, that if someone had three children, and they all produce a male grandchild, all three of those cousins will have the same name. So, expect 3 glyka, plus if the grandfather is still alive, 4 glyka ;) A custom going from generation to generation denoting the history of the family which can go hundreds of years back in time.
Cities and villages have main churches/chapels which carry the name of a saint. When it is the “Name Day” of the saint of the specific main church/chapel, there is either a day off or there is a big party in the village where everyone is invited. Friends, family and strangers. Amazing to join! Everybody celebrates!
- Among older generations, you “Name Day” is more important than your birthday which passes without as much notice. Though is changing in the younger generations.
- There are places where some names are more common because of a saint’s importance for that place/city/village
- A “Name Day” of a male saint can also be accounted for women that carry the name in the female version or vice versa
- There exists a calendar of “Name Days” so that you know exactly when which saint is celebrated and whom of your friends to congratulate: Check it here Only Christian Orthodox names are celebrated
- The Santa Clause of Greece is actually Saint Vasilis (Agios Vasilis). He set up a lot of hospitals, schools and did his best for others. His “Name Day” is celebrated on the 1st of January. This is also the day that the children get their presents. In a way his act of giving is celebrated on this day
- There are “Name Days” that move day. For instance the name of George (Giorgos) which is normally on the 23rd of April when it coincides with Easter Day, then it will be celebrated the second day of Easter, on the 24th of April
- “Name Day” changes when you get married. The name Maria. One of the most used names in Greece. The mother of Jesus, Maria, is being celebrated everywhere. The 21st of November is celebrated by the unmarried Marias. As soon as they marry, they celebrate their “Name Day” on the 15th of August, the day that the mother of Jesus died. Also one of the biggest celebrations throughout the year. It is holiday in Greece then. All the villages and islands have amazing processions and celebrations on this day and night. Really a magical part of Greece
Even you might not have a “Name Day”, we at Chove want you to celebrate every moment with glyka. Either it is your birthday, wedding anniversary, graduation, a present you want to give, a thank you to someone, a sorry, or any other reason you might find. Just because you are worth it. We encourage you to celebrate the moment you have now!
Enjoy every moment!
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Laura Katerina Kokkiadi
Owner & Founder