According to the Greek Orthodox tradition, nearly every day of the year is dedicated to a Christian saint or Martyr. When someone is named after one of these saints, that day becomes their “name day”. Name days are a much-anticipated event each year, greatly overshadowing birthdays. They include sweets, gifts, and parties, but unlike the American culture we are accustomed to, if you invite your friends out or you choose to celebrate, you are the one offering them sweets to celebrate with you. This is my first year to celebrate my name day:
Saint Stylianos is my saint and my Christian name is, Styliani (Stella for short)
The common wish for a name day is, Χρόνια Πολλά (pronounced HRON-yah poh-LAH), and loosely translated, means “many happy years”!
Something else very interesting is that Greek children are traditionally (and by that I mean always) named after their grandparents. This is the reason that you will defintely encounter many (I mean MANY) people with the same name. The most common are: Maria, Nikki, Yianni, Kostas, and Georgos!!!!
I also want to tell you a little about my saint. I got to choose my saint for my baptism and here is why I picked Stylianos.
Staint Stylianos was a man who practiced every day of his lifetime what Jesus preached when he said,
“Let the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the Kingdom of God” (Luke 10:14).
His great concern for children was such that he came to be considered the patron saint of children, but he did not limit his benevolence to children alone, as his life story bears out.
Stylianos was born during the seventh century in what is now Asia Minor. What the family of Stylianos lacked in material things, they were more than offset by the wealth of a deep faith in Jesus Christ. Determined to serve Christ to the fullest of his ability, Stylianos joined the hermits of the desert but did not choose to whithdrawl completely from society. Over time, he began feeling the Lord call him to the welfare of children specifically. He is known for healing many physically as well as being a spiritual mentor and father to many more. His life was dedicated to loving others and sacrificing anything he could give to make someone else’s life better. He is an amazing example for me to follow and be encouraged by, which is a big part of why Orthodox believe in giving only Christian names to their children. The saints become their role models and someone who they can strive to mimic.
In another post, I will explain the theology behind Byzantine icons – there is so much more to understand than what meets the eye!
Xpronia Polla to me 🙂
PS. Check out my other blog to see what special treat I made to share with everyone.