In Poland, name day (also known as namesday) or imieniny
(eem-yeh-NEE-nih) is more important than one's birthday or urodziny
, although recently, a greater emphasis is being placed on the latter.
Since the Middle Ages, name day, or the feast day of one’s patron saint, has been celebrated by Roman Catholics and Christians. The Calendar of Saints is a Christian method of associating each day with the names of one or more saints, and referring to that day as their feast day. So Poles named their children for the saint whose feast day was closest to the date of birth or baptismal date (in fact this was enforced by Catholic priests). The feast day date often became the “new” date of birth.
In Poland, most local calendars are still inscribed with saints' feast days. Name days are celebrated with family, friends, good food, drink and dancing. Gifts and flowers are bestowed on the celebrant. Special dispensations are given for St. Joseph's Day
, which falls on March 19 during Lent.
In Poland, name days are a special time for family and friends to gather. Sometimes friends and family simply stop by to wish the person celebrating their name day Wszystkiego najlepszego!
(All the best!) and Sto lat!
(A hundred years!) If gifts are given, they are usually flowers or chocolates and, sometimes, a little vodka for toasting.