05 December 2010

Polish Name Day

Traditionally, in Poland, birthdays are not celebrated as much as name days.  However, this tradition is starting to fade to the past.

Name Days, or Imieniny ("Ee-mie-NEE-nih") are celebrated on the day when the person celebrates the day of the saint they are named after.

As Poland is about 90% Catholic (which is a drop from years before), most Poles are named after saints.  Some who are not, are given a "baptism name". 

Name Day Celebrations seem just like Birthday celebrations, with gifts, cakes, well wishes and time spent with family.  Usually, the gifts are chocolates, flowers, or if the person is of age, perhaps vodka and then drinks are shared together.

Typically, the well wishers will say "Wszystkiego najlepszego" (Fshis-TCHE-go ni-lep-SHE-go, with the "e" and "o" sounds being soft) which means "everything the best" word for word, and meaning "all the best".Polish calendars will usually show the names of the saints.

A useful link for those interested in this tradition is http://www.behindthename.com/namedays/lists/pol.php which lists the saints by the day of the year.

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