| Namedays are a special and important
part of Greek life because the very names themselves go back
to the very beginning of Greek culture. Coming down to us through
the ages are the marvelous names of heroes, saints and mythological
figures such as the mighty Heraklis, Odysseus, Alexander, Socrates,
Plato, Constantine, Helen and many many more. Many of them have
changed little over time and are still used today. For instance,
the name 'Ioannis' is the derivative of 'John', and 'Maria'
the root for Mary. All these names and more are all derived
from the original Greek ...
In the beginning of the Greek Orthodox
religion, these celebrations were mainly observed as saint's
days, but later became individual 'namedays'. Nowadays namedays
are considered much more important (and easier to remember)
than a person's actual birthday. In most cases, it is a tradition
in Greece, that when a person has a nameday, he or she gives
an 'open-house' party where refreshments are offered to friends
and acquaintances alike.
During a nameday, it's usual to call your friends to wish
them 'chronia polla', or 'be blessed with many years' and
also 'na ziseis' or ' live long'. When visiting your 'nameday'
friend, take along a gift (usually a box of sweets, flowers
or a plant).