Published: July 28 2023
In Hungarian culture, the tradition of celebrating is a deeply ingrained practice that is just as significant as celebrating birthdays. Originating from the Catholic calendar of saints, this unique Hungarian custom has become a heartwarming nationwide gesture to honor the importance of one's name.
Overview of Name Days
The roots of name days can be traced back to early Christian societies where each day of the year was dedicated to a saint. Over time, Hungarians started associating specific names with these days, leading to the tradition of name days. Nowadays, Hungarian calendars are printed not only with public holidays and important days, but also with the names to be celebrated each day.
In Hungarian culture, everybody's first name has a special day in the calendar when people bearing the same name celebrate. This day is referred to as the respective person's name day. The timing of these name days can differ year by year based on the edition of the calendar, but most often they remain constant. For example, those named Peter will celebrate their name day on 29th June, the feast day of Saint Peter according to Catholic tradition.
Importance of Name Days
Although birthdays are a universal celebration, in Hungary, Name Days are often considered even more significant. Traditionally, while birthdays were seen as personal family affairs, name days were intended for larger community or even public celebration.
Name days are not only celebrated with family, but typically also with colleagues, friends, and even the wider public. It is usual for people to reach out to their friends, coworkers, or family members bearing the name of the day, to wish them well. The celebrations range from small gatherings over coffee to larger parties.
Celebration of Name Days
The celebration of name days would vastly depend on the individual's preferences but generally involve an exchange of small gifts, flowers, and cards. It's considered polite to remember someone's name day, and wishing them well can be as simple as sending a text or calling them to convey your good wishes.
In return, the person celebrating their name day might invite friends and family to their home for a get-together, offer treats, or throw a party. Though it's not a day off work, it's mostly a day of joy and celebration, adding warmth and conviviality to regular life.
From an outsider’s perspective, Hungarian name days can appear as an odd tradition. Yet, for the people immersed in the culture, it is a cherished practice that fosters bonds and infuses routine life with spontaneous moments of joy and celebration. Sending a simple message to wish someone on their name day reflects not only respect for traditions but also personal consideration and warmth.