Many Greek people prefer to celebrate their Name Day rather than their Birthday. However I live in Australia, which means that my family and friends are more likely to celebrate their birthday and less likely to do very much for their name day.
A birthday is a day when a person celebrates the anniversary of his or her birth (according to wikipedia). A name day is celebrated on the Feast Day of the Christian Saint in which a person is named after or ‘named at baptism‘.
What is really interesting to reflect on, is that a birthday celebrates the birth of a person yet a name day celebrates the death of a Saint.
There are many superstitions that have been formed around these cultural practices.
Here are a couple that I have heard of:
(The following examples are cultural practice and not a religious practice – read about the difference here).
For Name Days:
- The person who celebrates their name day should be the one to host the celebration. In other words they pay the bill at the end of the party.
- In Greece, people come over to your house on your name day (without invitation) to celebrate your name day with you.
- You pull on the ear of the person celebrating their name day (not sure why? If you know, then please send me an email, I’d love to hear about it.)
- Don’t touch the bottom of the birthday cake when cutting it. If you do, then you must kiss the closest person.
- The number of blows it takes you to blow out all the candles represents the number of years that you need to wait to get married. (sourced from here)
- Make a wish before blowing out the candles… but if you tell someone about your wish then it will not come true. (sourced from here)
An Interesting Fact (Mythological Story)
According to this website, the Ancient Greeks used to put candles on a cake to pay tribute to the Greek Moon Goddess, Artemis. They would bake round cakes to symbolize the moon and the candles were added to represent the reflected moonlight.
Why can’t you celebrate a birthday before the date?
Some people say that you should not celebrate your birthday before the actual date because it has not happened yet. It is considered unlucky to celebrate something too early just in case your expectations are not fulfilled. They say “don’t count your chickens before they hatch“.
Why should you celebrate a name day before the date?
However when it comes to a Name Day or a mnimosyno (a memorial service for one who has passed away), some people say that it is important to celebrate the Saint or remember the dead before the date passes. This shows respect and remembrance. It represents that their spirit is not been forgotten.
Do you know of any Birthday or Name Day superstitions?
Related Posts That You Might Like:
- Praying to St Anna for a Baby
- Sleep with a sugar almond under your pillow
- Sinteknos ~ The Cretan Godfather