It’s My Name Day Today!

What is a name day? It is a great tradition in the Czech Republic as well as in many other European countries. If you open Czech calendar, you will see that every day of the year is someone’s name day. It is a great thing because in one year you have the right to celebrate twice – your birthday and your name day!

In short, it’s an age-old European custom in which those with the same first name have one day a year assigned as their name day. People celebrate it in the same manner as birthdays. All the namesakes receive congratulations and gifts from their family, friends but also colleagues since everybody knows it is your name day today. In effect, it is like having a second birthday, but better! Why?

Czech calendar with names The bad thing about birthday is that not everybody knows it’s your birthday. This can’t happen with your name day! In the Czech Republic you can hear on the radios: “Congratulations to all Michals today! If you know any Michal, don’t forget to wish him happy name day today!” Not only is it written in all calendars, it will be reminded to you in newspapers as well. Your friends can therefore never forget your name day!

The original list was the Catholic calendar of saints. For example Saint Michael’s feast was held on September 29th. As a result all Michaels, in Czech Michals, celebrate their name days on this day till today. Since name days are celebrated for centuries here, many changes were made to reflect the present-day usage of names so no one is left out.

In the past, parents were not allowed to choose just any name for a child in the Czech Republic. This has changed after the Velvet Revolution, although it is still common to choose the name from the name day calendar. If a person was given a first name that doesn’t appear in the calendar, he or she may very well be feeling left out for not being able to celebrate his or her name day at all.

The name day is commonly of a bit less importance than Birthday to Czech people. However since our names are one of the most important possessions we have in life, it is great that we celebrate it!

And yes, nobody asks you about your age on your name day!!

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