The post below has been provided by two Project 143 alumni, Karina and Nadia. Both are now Latvian-American and we are so grateful for their insight into Latvian Name Days.
The name we get from our parents is one of the most personal 'things' we have. Our name distinguishes us from other people, and, in many ways, begins to define who we are. In many countries around the world, people celebrate a set of names each day of the year and every name has a particular date designated to be their day of celebration.
Name Day in the dictionary is defined as “the church feast day of the saint after whom one is named”. However, many countries go beyond the saint names from the church and have designated days for all names throughout the calendar year.
Name Day celebrations aren't unique to Latvia, however. People from various cultures call this celebration a Name Day. Name day is a convention in a few nations in Europe and these are a portion of the nations that continue to recognize this day: Poland, Romania, Russia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece and Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, North Macedonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Ukraine. The day is observed very similar to a birthday in America, yet it is uniquely different at the same time. In some cultures, this celebration may be more important than a birthday while others may barely recognize the celebration anymore. Where Name Days are still a vital part of a country's culture, each year’s calendar is printed with the names to be celebrated.
As a gift on this day, a traditional gift would be a chocolate bar, flowers, or a small but thoughtful gift.
So the next time you meet a European that may be from one of the countries that does celebrate Name Day, look up their Name Day (link below) and make them smile by giving them a small gift that will make them know you thought of them and recognize this special day to them.
For a website where you can find out more about Name Days in specific countries, please follow this link:
Thank you Karina and Nadia for sharing your traditions and culture with us!