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St. George’s Day > Happy Name Day! April 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture, Religion & Faith, Special Features.

It is a custom in Greece to celebrate our Christian Name Days, not only birthdays.

Great significance is attached to the name given a child, and the process of choosing a name follows fairly rigid conventions. The idea of a child being given a name just because the parents like the sound of it is unknown in Greece. Even naming a child after someone as a mark of respect or admiration is unusual.

Children are never named after parents, but the eldest son in a family is often called after his paternal grandfather and the oldest daughter after her paternal grandmother. Names are usually of religious origin. Each island or area in Greece has a patron Saint, and people living in that area often name a child after its patron Saint.

Each Saint has a special feast day. A person’s name day is the feast day of the Saint after which they were named and Christened. On someone’s name day, open house is held and a feast is laid on for the friends and neighbours who call. They will give a small gift to the person whose name day it is, but there is less emphasis on the giving of presents than there is in birthday celebrations.

So, for instance, if your name is Giorgos, George in Greek, your nameday is April 23rd., Stavros is September 14th, Yiannis, John in Greek, is January 7th, Andreas, Andrew in Greek, is November 30th, Alexis is March 17th etc.

According to the Orthodox Church, every day of the year has been dedicated to the memory of a Saint or a martyr from the Holy Bible and Holy Tradition. This day carries the name of the Saint and it’s called “nameday.” If someone is named after a Saint, then there is a big celebration on his/her name day. In Greece, namedays are usually more important than birthdays. Gifts are given, festive meals and desserts are prepared, and special preparations are made for an open house. Usually, namedays are on the same date, every year. These are the non-floating namedays. There are some “floating” namedays though, that every year are on a different date. The date of this name day varies each year depending on the date of the Orthodox Easter. For example, if Saint George’s day falls within the Holy Week, it is celebrated on Easter Monday. 

Those who are not named after a Saint have a party on All Saints’ Day, 8 weeks after Easter.

With all the above said, please join me in wishing to all Georges and Georgias, a > HAPPY NAME DAY!

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1. thereserose - April 23, 2007


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