CELEBRATING NAMEDAYS OBSERVING NAMEDAYS can help prepare the liturgical or foods, make or pick out favors to give to friends or relatives or other- our is important. Nothing sounds as number of popular customs are practiced wise help with the 's preparations. pleasant to us as our own name. A child will among Byzantine Christians on namedays. The Church is one body in Christ: one household beam with pleasure when his name is rec- Commonly a service would be celebrated in of all the baptized living or dead with Christ as its Y ognized; the adult may conceal his delight, A the parish community. Sometimes it would Head. Maintaining and celebrating our association with but usually feels it just the same. be a service of intercession in the 's one of the great of Christian history helps us to Today people choose for children on a far honor or the itself, especially if it were a see this Church, not as an impersonal institution, but as different basis than in the past. Parents often pick a major saint's day. The persons named after the saint or it is truly meant to be: one under the lordship of name because they like the sound of it; so we find peo- the family celebrating the feast would offer the bread its Head. ple of Middle Eastern background with names like for the Liturgy and sweet bread or wheat for the artok- Scott, Kimberly or Odette. Others even name their chil- lasia which would be shared by the worshippers. dren after sports or entertainment personalities of the The celebration would normally conclude with a COMMON NAMES AND NAMEDAYS moment. festive party. Often favors or token gifts would be part very day of the year between five and ten Traditionally, on the other hand, people chose of the day, but with this significant difference. The per- saints are remembered on Byzantine calen- names for more substantial : to express conti- son whose it is gives the gifts rather than re- dars alone. Some of the more popular ones nuity with their family they would 'recycle' the names ceives them. Giving is, after all, the best sign of grati- E are listed below. of parents, grandparents or other relatives. Thus the tude for Christians. family of was surprised when his In the family much can be done to initiate chil- – November 30 mother chose a name that was not common among dren into this custom of celebrating namedays. In earli- Ann – July 25 them: “None of your relatives has this name” (Luke 1:61). er years the child will simply delight in being the cen- Anthony – January 17 Christians have long chosen the names of saints ter of attention yet again. In building up a child's sense Barbara – December 4 from the liturgical calendar to proclaim their link with of self worth, his own name is his primary identifica- Basil – January 1 their spiritual family, the Church. This was often a cost- tion. He sees the saint as therefore someone like him- Catherine – November 25 ly kind of witness for believers living in a non – Christ- self, and a hero at that! Christina – July 24 ian society, as their very names ( or George, Soon, however, children begin to ask questions Christopher – May 9 Elias or Barbara) labeled them automatically as Chris- about death, heaven and hell. Having a relationship Cyril – June 9 tians. Rather than conceal their minority status behind with those who have died in Christ (the saints) can help – December 17 ambiguous names, these believers proclaimed their to conquer the child's natural fear of death. Later the – Sunday after identity with the Church of Christ by chosing saints' idea of children giving gifts or favors on their name- Dimitri – October 26 names. days would be another weapon in the parents' arsenal Elias – July 20 The Church calendar lists a number of saints against posessiveness and materialism, cravings which Elizabeth – June 25 whose memory may be observed each day of the year. affect every child. Gabriel – July 13 Persons who bear the name of these saints have tradi- In the home, icons of the patrons of family mem- George – April 23 tionally kept their memorial with special observances bers should be obtained and placed in the family icon Gregory – January 25 in honor of their patron. One's 'Nameday' is an occa- corner or in the rooms of the individual family mem- Habib – November 15 sion to honor the memory of the saint whose name we bers. On the nameday these Icons could be placed in a Helen – May 21 bear and to give thanks for his or her daily intercession special setting surrounded by candles and flowers. The Ignatius – December 20 on our behalf. In the Byzantine tradition people whose family could go to church for the Liturgy or arrange for Irene – May 5 names are not found on the would a special service preceeding a festive gathering in the James – October 23 keep the Transfiguration of Christ (August 6) or the home. The life of the saint could be read or related at John (the Theologian) – May 8 Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15) as their name- mealtime and special treats served. The gathering John (the Baptist) – June 24 days, depending on whether they were men or women could be capped with the singing of “ grant you John (of Damascus) – December 4 . many years” to the one whose nameday it is. Inventive – Sunday after Christmas have planned skits, made mini pilgrimages to Jude – June 19 local churches named for the saint followed by a trip to Julia – December 21 the child's favorite restaurant, or created banners and Julian – February 6 other home decorations about the patron. The child Lawrence – August 10 FAMILY FESTIVALS Luke – October 18 any Eastern Christians have the custom of Mark – April 25 observing “family feasts”. On these occa- Martha – July 5 sions they would celebrate in a particularly Martin – April 14 M solemn way one of the major Church festi- CELEBRATING Mary – August 15 vals (one of the Great Feasts or major Matthew – November 16 saint's days) as their family's patronal feast. Generally NAMEDAYS Maximos – January 21 this means that the extended family (brothers, cousins, Michael – November 8 etc.) would participate in the Church services of the Natalie – August 26 feast together, usually offering the bread, wheat, wine Nicholas – December 6 and oil for the artoklasia service and the bread for the Paul – June 29 Divine Liturgy. Thus we find a petition in the artoklasia Peter – June 29 service for “those who are offering these oblations and Philip – November 14 celebrating this feast.” Romanos – October 1 In many places those who had the means would Samuel – August 20 offer refreshments to those attending this celebration Simon – May 10 in gratitude for the blessings the family has received. Stephen – December 27 This custom is not so frequently practiced in this coun- Theodore – February 17 try but would seem to be especially well suited to sup- Thomas – October 6 porting both the natural family's sense of unity and its Timothy – January 22 commitment to the parish family as well. Victor – November 11

Brief notices about their lives can be found in the liturgical calendar available in many parishes. There are several sources for fuller versions of the Lives of the Saints. Here are a few: Orthodox Saints: Spiritual Profiles for Modern Man in four volumes by the Very Rev. Father George Poulos. Each volume gives over 100 two-page biographies of saints as they appear on the church cal- endar. The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints in twelve volumes from Chrysostom Press. Each vol- ume contains numerous biogra- phies of varying lengths for the OFFICE OF EDUCATIONAL SERVICES saints commemorated during a MELKITE EPARCHY OF NEWTON given month (as of this writing, http://melkite.org/ seven volumes are available: September through March). Photo courtesy St. Joseph School for Boys Bookstore http://www.easterngiftshop.com/