You will notice that Birthdays are not such a celebrated event in Cyprus & Greece as they are in the UK, however Name Days are very much celebrated.
Children are typically named after the Patron Saint of their region, with the eldest son often being named after his paternal grandfather, and the eldest daughter after her paternal grandmother. Because of this tradition, you will often find cousins with the same name.
The Name Day is the feast day of the saint after which a child was named. Some Saint’s Name Days actually get celebrated more than one time per year. The tradition is for a party to be thrown on the person’s Name Day. A barbeque and buffet at the house is usually prepared and there is lots of singing, dancing and drinking. Invites are not usually given to join the celebrations of a Name Day friends, family and neighbours are just expected to visit. Some may only stay a short time, as they will have other friends or family with the same name to visit. It is customary to take a small gift to the person celebrating their name day, usually this would be flowers, a small plant or sweet.
Each Greek Orthodox Church is also named after a saint, therefore there are also community celebrations for its Name Day, known as ‘Panigiria’, which include food, fireworks, and fairs. On the eve of the saint’s day, villagers and street vendors may gather in the grounds of the patron saint’s church to sell local delicacies.
In England we also tend to celebrate the day by visiting church to listen to the service and socialise with other patrons of the church at a lunch specially prepared by them to celebrate.
Click here for a full list of Greek Orthodox Name Days for 2016 (Εορτολόγιο για το 2016)