The Greek Orthodox Church has a rich tradition of honoring saints and martyrs. Many days of the year are dedicated to these historic figures. Parents and clergy encourage children to emulate their namesakes' lives, so a name day calls for quite a celebration. Often people named after those saints celebrate their corresponding name days like birthdays.
Greek Orthodox Name Days vs. Birthdays
Name days take on more importance in the Greek Orthodox faith than a person's actual birthday. While only immediate family members and some close friends might know the actual date of an individual's birthday, most people know his or her name day, since the country's strong religious tradition encourages widespread knowledge of the more well-known saints' and martyrs' names and their corresponding dates.
Some aspects of name day festivities, like gift-giving and cakes, resemble birthday parties, but the person celebrating a name day gives the gifts rather than receiving them. Religion plays a prominent role in a name day celebration, unlike with a secular birthday. An icon of the celebrant's patron saint, sometimes adorned with flowers, typically occupies a place of honor in the living room. Parents usually host a name day open house for their children rather than an invite-only party and serve an extensive menu. These events, called "feast days," traditionally begin at church with a celebration of Vespers and the Divine Liturgy. When children attend school on their name days or adults go to work, it's customary to take chocolates or cakes to share with schoolmates or coworkers.
Some Greek Orthodox name days fall on the same date every year. These are called "non-floating" name days. "Floating" name days fall on different dates each year, typically corresponding to holidays with changing dates such as Easter. Dates in the list below are non-floating name days.
People without a saint's name can celebrate nonetheless eight weeks after Easter on All Saints Day. It's something of a communal birthday party.
November Name Day Calendar
November has 14 non-floating name days beginning on the first of the month and wrapping up on the last day. This list of the saints and names associated with each name day is by no means complete. The names of some saints and their days are known only to certain small, often rural, churches. These name days are dedicated solely to saints and martyrs of the Greek Orthodox faith, not necessarily Christianity at large.
- November 1: Ag. Anarron/Kosma & Damianos, Anargiros, Argiris, Kosmas, Damianos (Damian)
- November 8: Mixail & Gavriel, Mixalis, Michail, Michali, Angelos, Stamatis, Stamos (Michael, Angelo, Gabriel)
- November 9: Nektarios
- November 11: Mina, Viktoros (Victor)
- November 13: Ioannos Chrysostomos
- November 14: Filippos, Philippos (Philip)
- November 16: Mathaios (Matthias, Matthew)
- November 18: Platonos
- November 21: Eisodia tis Theotokos, Despina, Maria
- November 22: Filimonos
- November 25: Merkourios / Aikaterinis, Katerina (Catherine, Kate)
- November 26: Stylianos, Stella, Stelios
- November 27: Nathanail (Nate, Nathaniel)
- November 30: Andrea, Andreas (Andrew, Andre)
Consult a list of common Greek names to find out when each saints' name day typically occurs each year.