Dinner has ended and the sweet aroma of name day bread is wafting its way towards the table where four anxious children await a slice. You see…today is my son, Christopher’s, name day and we are just about to begin our family’s name day tradition.
This is our settling down time – our reflective time before bed. We sing “God grant you many years” and cut the name day bread. Everyone enjoys their slice while my husband or myself reads about our child’s patron saint.
After we’ve finished reading about their patron saint, we talk about ways our children can incorporate some of their saint’s virtues in their own life. We talked about Saint Christopher’s strong desire to serve Christ. How can we serve Christ in our lives? Our patron saints modeled ways we can devote our lives to God. What can we do, especially on our name days, and throughout the year as we look up to our patron saints for guidance? Answers to these questions will vary depending on the life of the saint. For example, Saint Christopher made a living carrying people across water. How can we help the ederly who cannot always do the same tasks they did when they were much younger? (i.e. yard work, house cleaning, etc) Is there anyone we know in the hospital and we could bring them a care package? Is there anyone who is sick at home and we could bring a meal to them? How can we help someone else in need?
Whenever possible, we always try to attend Liturgy on our name days. There’s not always a service for each of our name days. I think my daughter (Saint Nicholas) is the only one who consistently has Liturgy celebrated on her name day. Otherwise, we say a special prayer that night for our patron saint.
Our Name Day traditions at a glance:
- Attend Liturgy, when available
- Bake a name day sweet bread or cake
- Sing “God grant you many years”
- Read a story about our patron saint while eating our bread or cake
- Talk about our saint and how we can imitate them
- Imitate our patron saint through an act of kindness related to their story
- The person celebrating their name day gets to light the candles and incense for bedtime prayers
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