What is a nameday?
In addition to a
birthday every Bulgarian also
celebrates a nameday. The name is
something that you receive at birth and that
stays with you throughout your entire life.
If you celebrate your birthday, why not
celebrate your nameday too?
The Bulgarian name day
is a recognition of the meaning of the name,
whether it comes from the name of a saint
that the person is named after, from a long
tradition, or from historical events. The
nameday is thus either the birthday of the
saint whose name you bare, or the time of
the year which is connected to the meaning
of your name, or the name of the holiday you
are born on, etc.
The name is considered the most important
attribute for a person. The Bulgarians have
a proverb, which says: "Тhe name makes the
man", and another one adds: "A man with no
name is no man." To defame one's name was
considered the worst sin that a person could
commit. On contrary, when someone is
respected by the people, they would hear:
"Good morning! Long live you and your name!"
as they stroll down the street.
In the past, the celebration of namedays
(name days or name-days) was one of the most
respected family holidays. Many of the old
people didn’t know the exact date of their
birth. For orientation they used the
Orthodox calendar and the holidays on it.
They described their birth date as “born
after St. Demetrius’ Day," "at threshing
time," "before grape-picking" or "on Holy
Virgin’s Day”, etc.
According to old legends each man is
destined to have a protector, a spirit that
guides him in life, protects him from evil,
helps him in difficult moments and incites
him to do good deeds. After death this
spirit accompanies the soul to the other
world and presents it before God. During
lifetime the protector-spirit sits on the
right shoulder of the person. On the left
side sits the devil’s messenger and pushes a
man to do evil things. Much like in many of
the cartoons you have seen on TV. If the
protector-spirit is weak, a man becomes bad
or permanently ill. If the spirit is strong,
a man is healthy, good and kind. Old
Bulgarians believed that on the nameday they
must pay homage to the protector spirit, for
the spirit has suggested to the parents what
name to give to their newborn child.
According to Bulgarian tradition, it is
polite if you visit your friends on their
nameday. You also do this
invited - this is how you express your
respect. When you see them you are supposed
to pull their ears up or
pour some cold water on their head.
Nowadays, Bulgarians still respect this
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