Name Days

Being a bit of a Russophile, and a big fan of festivals and family celebrations, we decided last year to start celebrating our Name Days, as well as the usual birthdays, Christmas, Easter etc.  (Although if we were really going for the Russian thing, technically we could have two Christmas Days, New Year's and Easters due to the 13 day difference between the Gregorian and Julian calendars.)

A Russian Name Day celebration in traditional dress

In Russia, именины (imeniniy) are a BIG DEAL, often bigger even than a birthday.  Birthdays are usually celebrated just by the immediate family, but Name Days are more widely known and celebrated, with yet more presents, cards and good wishes.

Name Days have traditionally been celebrated across Europe, and are still very popular in Eastern Europe and Greece.  Each first name is assigned to one day of the calendar, traditionally according to the Saints' Days determined by the Church, but more modern names may be assigned according to other facts or their similarity to traditional names.

For example, the Church Saint's Day of St Michael is on September 29th, and as a result the Name Day for Michael is on September 29th.  This is when we celebrate Misha's Name Day, as his name is the Russian diminutive of the name Mikhail (Michael).

Traditionally, your Name Day was the day you would be christened into the Church, so all the Tatianas or Vladimirs would celebrate together.  We may well aim for this with Sophia, although we'll need to go for the Sunday, 16th September, rather than her actual Name Day, 17th September.

Therefore today, 23rd April,  is the day for all those called George, or its associated forms, to celebrate, including our dear Yuri (the Russian form of the name George).  My Name Day is at the end of the week, and Lara's was a few weeks ago, so this weekend we're having a joint tea party - with her beloved pink cakes! - to celebrate.  Better still we get presents!!!  I'll let you know how it goes.