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Imieniny (Name Day) – What is it All About?

I always thought imieniny (name day) was a Polish tradition just to find out that as it comes from feast days of Catholic saints it is widely observed in various European countries and Latin America as well.

The day of the saint one is sharing the first name with is the date of imieniny, celebrated similarly to birthdays with flowers, cakes, parties and sometimes small gifts.

Name days are more popular among colleagues and acquaintances who can find out the date from any calendar, newspaper or radio station that usually mentions in the morning whose name days are on this particular day. Kids (on their name day) are expected to bring sweets to school for their classmates. Work colleagues are celebrating at work with cakes and teas or coffees during work hours. And because the dates are common knowledge, there is no escape, in particular, if there are others with the same name celebrating.

Except for the above, name days are not all that bad, some people actually prefer them to birthdays, especially after a certain age because they are not overshadowed by the thought of getting old.

To me, personally, imieniny were never important. Just an unnecessary, old-fashioned custom. Therefore since I moved to the UK I have never really regretted not having have to celebrate them. In addition to that names of my closest family are not even on the name day calendar so expecting them to recognize mine would be a bit unfair!

And do you celebrate name days in your part of the world? What’re your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments section below…

Photo: Erol Ahmed – under CC0 licence

6 Responses

  1. I do and I find it more important than my Birthday but purely for personal reasons: I celebrate it together with my dad, Hubert – both our names go back to the Lithuanian tradition of hunting. His name is related to the god of hunters (Hubertus) and mine to the god of woods (Sylvanus). So it always reminds me of our connection and history. But you are right – everyone relates to it differently.

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