What’s in a name?

Photo courtesy of Lubos Houska/Pixabay
Photo courtesy of Lubos Houska/Pixabay

There is no doubt that the Czech Republic is a beautiful country. Not only is it rich with architectural treasures and natural wonders, it also has a very colorful culture.   One of these interesting cultural practices is the observance of a name day.

In Czech culture, the calendar has a set of names.  This means that every Czech person’s name is based on the calendar.  If you are Czech, forget about naming your child “Northwest”  or “Vector Ion,” if you do not want to go through the trouble of obtaining a permit and paying a fine.    Parents wanting to name their child differently would need a special permission from a Czech authority to be able to do so.

Having one’s name derived from the calendar also means that each person has a name day.  So everyday in  Czech is somebody’s name day.  It is kind of a big deal.  The name day is celebrated like a birthday.  You wish the person a happy name day and give him or her a little present like a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates.

Two weeks ago, we celebrated my daughter’s name day.  For our family, it is pretty much the last name day celebration for this year.  In as much as I would like to observe all the cultural festivities in Czech, I’m glad we’re done celebrating name days.  It is a celebration that I always forget.  Perhaps because I don’t have one.

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Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

“All the best for your name day!” That’s what the title means.

Here in the Czech Republic, everyday is somebody’s name day.  So technically, Czechs have 2 celebrations of their existence – the day they were born and their name day.   Although name days commonly bear less importance than birthdays, quite a few people still celebrate it.  Based on my research, it is either celebrated by giving flowers and chocolates or if the person is older, by going out with friends and co-workers for beer.

It is interesting to note that in the past, parents were compelled to choose the names of their children based on the name days in the calendar.  Any highly unusual name needs the approval of a “special office” before a child can be baptized or registered using that name.

I don’t have a name day.  If I were Czech, my parents would’ve appealed to that “special office’ to get my name approved.  It is not on the Czech name day calendar.

If  fate was written in the stars, Jakub’s name was written on the sand.  As I was noting down schedules on my Czech calendar this morning, I just realized that today is Jakub’s name day.  I wonder what I’ll do to celebrate it.  I cannot buy him flowers or chocolates nor can I go out for beer with him.

What would you do if I were you?