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GREEK NAME DAY TRADITIONS

What's in a Name Day?

If you are of Greek Orthodox heritage, you may already know that you have a Name Day and celebrate it each year. Greeks do, of course, celebrate their Birthdays as well. However, Name Days are considered as more important celebrations than Birthdays.

With children usually taking the name of their grandparents, names are carried over from one generation to the next. It is customary for the firstborn boy to be named after his parental grandfather, in many cases carrying on the same name and surname combinations for many hundreds of years.

As it is, Greek names are mostly derived from Christian Faith, hence they are often the names of Saints of the Greek Orthodox Church. Each Saint is commemorated on a different day of the year. The day on which Christians honour each Saint is also the Name Day for the many Greeks named after that Saint. It is an important Religious day for the Church, and an important day in the life of the many people named after each Saint.

Name Day Etiquette and Celebrations

In Greece, not remembering somebody on their Birthday may be acceptable. Birthday Parties are usually attended following an invitation. Name Days, however, are regarded as Open House Celebrations and it is often considered offensive to snub one on that day. In past years people did not need an invitation to attend the Name Day Celebration. The fact was that Nikos would be at home offering sweets and drinks at the very least on the 6th of December every year, waiting for guests to arrive to wish him "Hronia Polla" and to offer their presents, personal gifts, flowers, a bottle of alcohol or cakes. Hronia Polla (Χρόνια Πολλά) is the traditional "all-in-one" wish to give on any occasion in Greece, literally meaning "Many Years", as in "wishing you many years to live".

Things have changed in recent years, whereby people won't just rock up to your house uninvited on your Name Day with their present. Today it is only acceptable to arrive at a Name Day celebration after you have first called the Honouree to wish them a Happy Name Day and confirm that they will be accepting visitors in the evening. In that case, anything goes: from sweets, snacks and drinks to full-blown parties with music, food and dancing. Even the police will rarely disturb a loud party at a property where a Name Day celebration is being held, sometimes continuing well into the wee hours of the morning.

Greek Orthodox Name Day Traditions

Name Days have religious roots and are meant to honour the Saint whose memory is being celebrated. On the most well-known Saints' Name Days people go to church, sometimes travelling for many hours, to honour the Saint and/or Church where his/her Icon is displayed.

For instance, on the 15th of August each year, the day dedicated to the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, thousands of people flock to her Church - Panagia tis Tinou - on the Island of Tinos from all around Greece, a few even climbing the many stone steps on their knees to ask for a miracle. They leave votive trinkets - tamata - made of silver and precious stones at her Icon, in exchange for the much-needed miracle requested. The 15th of August is a National Holiday throughout Greece and is considered one of the most important celebrations of Christian Faith.

Similarly, the life and miracles of many less known Saints of Greek Orthodox Faith are celebrated on different days throughout the year. The highlight of the evening will often mean a visit to the home of a relative or friend who has their Name Day. Gifts are offered and a celebration takes place.

Look for some of the most well-known Greek names below and see who has their Name Day in the next few months. Don't forget to send that special someone a bunch of flowers from Petals Worldwide or some chocolates on their Name Day. Write ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΠΟΛΛΑ on the card or download our PDF, printable version, of a Name Day Card to go with your gift. You will need Acrobat Reader to view and print the card.

    

2009 (June to December)

Well-known Greek Orthodox Name Days - Courtesy of www.eortologio.gr

NAME - HONOUREE - NAME DAY

DATE

MONTH

ANARGYROS (1) (Anargyros, Anargyri)

28

June

GERMANOS (Germanos)

28

June

PAVLOS (Pavlos, Paul, Pavlina)

29

June

PETER (Petros, Peter, Paul, Petroula, Petrina, Petras, Petrakis, Petrinos, Petria, Petra)

29

June

APOSTOLOS (1) (Apostolis, Apostolos, Tolis, Lea, Lia, Apostolina, Polina)

30

June

ANARGYROS (2) (Anargyros, Anargyri)

1 July

COSMAS (1) (Kosmas)

1 July

DAMIANOS (1) (Damianos, Damian)

1 July

IRINI (2) (Eirene, Eirini, Irene, Irini)

28 July

SOTIRIS (Sotiria, Sotiris)

6 August

DESPOINA (2) (- for married women - Despoina, Deppy, Pipina, Despo, Pepi, Zepo)

15 August

MARY (Maria - for married women, Mary, Maro, Marios, Mario, Mariori, Marika, Maroula, Maritsa, Margiori, Marigoula, Manio, Marietta, Marousa, Marsia, Marcy)

15 August

PANAGIOTIS (Panayotis, Panagiotis, Panos, Panikos, Panagiota, Pani, Tota, Toula)

15 August

APOSTOLOS (2) (Apostolis, Apostolos, Tolis, Lea, Lia, Apostolina, Polina)

16 August

STAMATIA (2) (Stamatia, Matoula, Mato, Stamela, Stamatina, Stamata, Matina, Mata)

16 August

STAMATIS (2) (Stamatis, Stamos)

16 August

ALEXANDER (Alexis, Alex, Alexander, Alexandros, Alekos)

30 August

THEODORA (2) (Thodora, Theodora)

11 September

STAVROS (Stavros, Stavroula, Steven)

14 September

SOPHIA (Sofia, Sonia, Fifi, Sofianos, Sofoula, Sofoulis)

17 September

DIONISIS (1) (Dionysius, Dionysis, Dionisos, Dionysios, Dionysos, Nionios, Denis, Dennis, Denise, Sissy)

3 October

DIMITRA (Dimitra, Dimitria, Dimi)

26 October

DIMITRIOS (1) (Demetris, Dimitris, Dimitrios, Jim, James, Mitros)

26 October

ANARGYROS (3) (Anargyros, Anargyri)

1 November

COSMAS (2) (Kosmas)

1 November

DAMIANOS (2) (Damianos, Damian)

1 November

GREGORY (2) (Grigoris, Grigorios, Gregory, Gregorios, Gregoris, Golis, Gregor)

14 November

PHILIP (Filippos, Philippos, Philip)

14 November

PHILIPIA (Philippia, Philippa, Filio, Phylis)

14 November

DESPOINA (1) (- for unmarried women - Despoina, Deppy, Pipina, Despo, Pepi, Zepo)

21 November

MARY (Maria - for unmarried women, Mary, Maro, Marios, Mario, Mariori, Marika, Maroula, Maritsa, Margiori, Marigoula, Marietta, Marousa, Marsia, Marcy)

21 November

CATHRINE (Aikaterine, Aikaterini, Katerina, Kaiti, Karen, Caren, Carin, Caron, Caronn, Carren, Carrin, Carron, Carryn, Caryn, Carynn, Carynne, Karan, Kari, Karin, Karna, Karon, Karren, Karrin, Karryn, Karyn, Kerran, Kerrin, Kerron, Kerrynn, Keryn, Kerynne)

25 November

STILIANOS (Stelios, Stylianos, Stella, Stelia)

26 November

ANDREW (Andreas, Andrea, Andrew)

30 November

BARBARA (Barbara, Varvara)

4 December

NIKOLETA (Nikoletta)

6 December

NIKOLINA (Nikolina)

6 December

NIKOS (1) (Nikolaos, Nikoleta, Nikos, Nicholas, Nicolas, Nick)

6 December

ANN (1) (Anna, Annita, Anneta, Aneza)

9 December

DIONISIS (2) (Dionysius, Dionysis, Dionisos, Dionysios, Dionysos, Nionios, Denis, Dennis, Denise, Sissy)

17 December

ANASTASIA (Anastasia)

22 December

NATASA (Natasa, Tesa, Tasa, Tatia, Sia)

22 December

CHRISTINA (2) (Christina, Christy, Chris, Christyne, Christoli)

25 December

CHRISTOS (Christos, Christis)

25 December

CHRYSTALLA (Chrystalla, Hrystalla, Chrystalia)

25 December

EMMANOUELA (1) (Emmanouela)

25 December

EMMANUEL (1) (Emmanouil, Manolis, Manuella, Emma)

25 December

CONSTANTIOS (Costantios, Kostantios, Costantina, Kostantina, Dia)

26 December

EMMANOUELA (2) (Emmanouela)

26 December

EMMANUEL (2) (Emmanouil, Manolis, Manuella, Emma)

26 December

PANAGIOTIS (Panayotis, Panagiotis, Panos, Panagiota, Panikos)

26 December

STEPHANOS (Stefanos, Stephania, Steven, Stefania, Stephen, Stevan, Stevenson, Stevon, Stevyn, Steve, Stefan, Stephan, Steffen, Stefon)

27 December

 

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