Polish Name Days (Imieniny)

21 Apr 2017

In Poland, name days (imieniny) are widely celebrated and have traditionally been given a greater importance than birthday celebrations, particularly as one gets on in years. Printed in every local calendar, these name days represent the feast days of Catholic saints. Every day of the year is assigned two saints – one male, one female – and chances are if you share a name with a saint (as almost all Poles do), you too have a name day. Some names are even repeated more than once in a calendar year, in which case you celebrate the first of your name days to fall after your birthday.

Name Day celebrations in Poland are social events, traditionally involving the gathering of friends and family at the celebrant’s home or in the bar of their choice. Differing slightly from western birthday celebrations in which the celebrant is often seen as a ‘guest of honour’ and might expect to be bought drinks all night, in name day gatherings the celebrant traditionally plays the role of host, buying drinks for friends and ensuring that guests are taken care of. In return, guests should bring small gifts (typically chocolate, flowers or vodka) as you would on someone’s birthday. The Polish birthday song ‘Sto Lat’ (A Hundred Years) is sung, and its mindless simplicity might be tempting for foreigners to criticise until they reflect on just how dreadful the English happy birthday song actually is. Name Days are so important to Polish culture that they are often prominently displayed on public transport, thereby ensuring that you know who you should be buying flowers for that day; information that you may find less readily available on those same trams and buses is the name of the next stop. Go figure.


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Over a year ago
Do dna
Sto lat (also strongly connected to weddings and drinking generally - in Polish with a translation) Sto lat, sto lat, Niech żyje, żyje nam. Sto lat, sto lat, Niech żyje, żyje nam, Jeszcze raz, jeszcze raz, niech żyje, żyje nam, Niech żyje nam!This translates as: A hundred years, a hundred years, Let him live long, amongst us. A hundred years, a hundred years, Let him live long, amongst us. Once more, once more, let him live, live long with us, Let him live with us!
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