The name we received from our parents may be the most important possession we were ever given. It discerns us from others and it has shaped our personalities and individuality. In many cultures and countries around the world, there is a celebration of someone’s name every day of the year. This celebration is referred to as Name Day.
A name day is a tradition in many countries in Europe and Latin America that consists of celebrating a day of the year that is associated with one’s given name. The tradition of celebrating name day flows back into Catholic and Orthodox countries since the Middle Ages and still continues to this day. While those in North America don’t necessarily celebrate this day (other than an individual’s birthday), many cultures still hold this day in high regard.
Each name day typically is celebrated in commemoration of saints and martyrs of the Catholic church. For example, the name Karl is celebrated in Sweden on January 28, which is the anniversary of the death of Charlemagne. In some countries, such as Poland, there are several days for one name. In that situation, the name day is usually the closest one after the person’s birthday. In fact, many countries regard name day celebrations to be even more important than an actual birthday, as the latter was seen as a pagan tradition.
The best thing about name days is that you don’t need to know your friend’s birthday, just their name, in order to send them a greeting. And, while birthdays are certainly the most favorite reason to celebrate and party in America, name days are just as important to many cultures around the world. There are many sites online that will provide a name day date for free, such as http://www.happynameday.info/.
So, the next time you don’t know someone’s birthday, look up their name day and wish them a “Happy Name Day” instead. And maybe throw in a personalized name plate with their name and their special name date!