“A name day commemorates the feast of the saint whose name we received at baptism, or the saint we have chosen as a patron.
“The day of saint’s death – and thus his birth into Heaven – is the day generally celebrated as his feast. In some countries and in most religious orders, name days are celebrated rather than birthdays. Name days can be a means of strengthening the faith of our children and of drawing them closer in the Communion of Saints.
“The celebration could begin on the vigil of the feast day with a family rosary or other prayer. On the day of the feast itself, the family might attend Mass together and later have a sort of party with friends. Special decorations, using symbols of the saint, and an elaborate dessert might be served. Games in honor of the saint could be played. A small home altar to the saint might be set up; a special prayer asking the patron’s protection and help for the name-day celebrant should be said.
“Children love ceremony and tradition, and your own family decorations and ideas should be carefully preserved from year to year. Consult your Church calendar for the days to celebrate for your family’s own special patrons. A good beginning is to go to your church or school library with your child and find as much as you can about his or her patron. A classic Catholic book from the early 1960s by Helen McLaughlin, My Nameday, Come for Dessert, has hundreds of ideas for name-day celebrations.
“Food customs connected with the celebration of the feasts of some of the saints are given in this book. If your saint is not listed, then begin your own traditions in his or her honor.
“In Germany, there is a traditional German name-day cake called Kugelhupf.”
From Ann Ball’s Catholic Traditions in the Home and Classroom, p. 66. Please see Activity One for the recipe!
Catholic Faith Resources | For Catholic Parishes | Order OSV Products | RSS | Advertise | About Us | Contact Us | Jobs