Did you know that Poles used to celebrate the Name Day over Birthday?
Name Day in Poland
Nowadays Name Day in Poland (in Polish language imieniny) is not as popular as it used to be. However, still in many regions of Poland are very willingly and pompously celebrated, not once treated as more important as the birthday itself. Are you curious what this custom is? Where did it come from? How do we celebrate the Name Day in Poland?
The Name Day in Poland was in some sense introduced by the Catholic Church in order to eliminate pagan customs, namely birthday. It is not difficult to notice today that the success of this plan is only partial, even though its implementation has been going on for a very long time, because certainly more than 1000 years.
The Name Day is a celebration of a holy or blessed person assigned to a specific day in the Christian calendar. This is connected with the deep Christian tradition. It has a very strong relationship with faith, and every day of the month are assigned names belonging to specific people known for the lives of saints.
For many people, the name they hold is even more important, because it associates them with a religious patron for the rest of their life. Saint or blessed person is to help and protect the name holder throughout the weaknesses and wonders.
The Name Day is still celebrated
Yes, today the Name Day is still celebrated in Poland, although it is not as prevalent as it used to be. I would say that it is more popular within old-generation than new-generation. I celebrated my name’s day last time when I was a kid as I wanted to get an extra gift from my parents. I have never known that my name’s day depends on the person who is my patron and I have never matched it with religion.
The fact important to notice is that the tradition is more preserved in the villages than in the cities.
When to celebrate the Name Day
That is a good question as some of the names are repeated in the calendar. Because some of the names are in calendar many times (for example Jan is on the 42 pages of the calendar) it does not mean that this person celebrate the Name Day 42-times per year. Nowadays, it is popular to select the Name Day if our name is multiplied in the calendar. However, the traditional method is the first date after the date of birth when our day is mentioned in the calendar.
How do we celebrate?
It is not a surprise that Polish people love to drink. The Name Day in Poland became another excuse to meet up with family members or friends and spend the evening at the table with glasses, cold 40% beverage (vodka) and a nibbles.
Poles say that herring loves to swim (when eating a herring, you need to pour it over with vodka). Therefore, celebrators prepare food. Actually a lot of food; as more fat, it is as better as vodka is better digested. It must be enough food for the whole evening or even the whole night.
People talk, people eat, people drink. And people sing a song Sto lat, sto lat, niech żyje, żyje nam! (eng. Hundred years, hundred years, long live, live for us!).
People do not stop talking even they drunk. People do not stop drinking unless no more bottles left. People stop eating… actually, they never stop eating as in Polish tradition there is no possible that food is run out when drinking. Otherwise- you are a bad host!
But if you do not want to be a bad guest remember a phrase “Na zdrowie!” and use it every time when you drink with Poles.