Today, January 7th is dedicated to Agios Ioannis (Saint John the Baptist) and is the Name Day for Greek males named Ioannis. The name Ioannis is commonly shortened to Yannis and translates to John. It’s a big Greek Orthodox tradition to celebrate the Name Day of the saint that bears your name. This day usually has no relation to a person’s birthday except by intention. In fact, the Name Day is often considered more important than an adult’s birthday.
Traditional naming conventions in Greece are often followed with the result, that first names are used for many family members in a generation. The eldest son in each family is named for the grandfather, and the eldest daughter named for the grandmother. Potentially three cousins could have the same name as the grandfather, as happens in my husband’s family. To top it off, all of those with the same first name will celebrate the same saint’s Name Day. You can imagine the havoc and tsunami of phone calls.
This morning, our phone has been ringing nonstop with friends and family calling to wish my husband, Yanni, “Chronia Polla,” for his Name Day. Wishing all of you named after Saint John the Baptist, a Happy Name Day. Chronia Polla.