Polish name days – what, when, how? 10 questions about "imieniny".

"Congratulations! A boy or a girl?” - a foreign friend once asked me when I told her that I was going to buy flowers for my mom's "name day". She surprised me with this question - my mom wasn't expecting... It all turned out to be a funny misunderstanding. Not knowing what a Polish name day is, my friend assumed it was the same as "naming day"... 

1. „Name day” vs. „Naming day” in Poland - what is the difference?

Although these two English phrases sound similar, they do not mean the same thing.

"Naming day" is a custom that is not popular in Polish culture. "Naming day" is an event during which the parents of a newborn child announce the name they have chosen. "Naming day" is a popular event in the USA, and is the equivalent of baptisms in non-believer families. As Poland is a mainly Catholic country, many parents still prefer baptisms (PL: "chrzest") over naming days.

"Name day" is the English translation of the Polish "imieniny". This occasion, in turn, is not well known abroad and arouses great curiosity among foreigners who encounter this tradition for the first time in Poland. What is a name day exactly?

2. What's a name day?

A name day is a holiday celebrated on a given day by people with the same name, in memory of the saint whose name she/he carries. 
In Poland, name days are an opportunity for social gatherings (usually in smaller groups than birthdays and important anniversaries), giving gifts and celebrating together. Even if no meetings are organized, the name day person receives wishes from his/her family, friends and acquaintances. Giving or sending name day flowers is a very popular Polish name day tradition on this day.

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3. When is my Polish name day? How do I figure it out?

In the past, you could look for a given name in printed calendars, as most Polish calendars include the list of name days. Only traditional, known Polish names are listed in the calendars. If you have a foreign name, you must look whether it has a Polish equivalent. Nowadays, you can also look up in the dates online, by writing "imieniny + [name]"

However, there is a trick. Very often, it is not enough to search for them on the Internet or in the calendar, because some names appear in them multiple times. This does not mean, of course, that these people celebrate each of these days, because name days are celebrated only once a year.

So how is one name day chosen among multiple options? How do I know when someone celebrates a name day?

Name day is an unofficial holiday, therefore there are no formal regulations setting a single, mandatory name day date. Therefore, there is some freedom in choosing the name day date. It is customary to celebrate either:
- the first date on the list after your birthday
- the date closest to your birthday

Some popular names, however, are celebrated publicly on one day a year - e.g. Barbórka, Mikołajki, Andrzejki, Katarzynki. People with these names usually celebrate on the most popular of days, not the one closest to their birthday.

4. Why do Poles celebrate name days?

The history of name days in Poland is surprisingly interesting. Name days come from the Christian tradition. Each saint is commemorated and has his or her own day in the liturgical calendar. In ancient times, a newborn child was named after a saint who was commemorated on a given day. Over time, however, parents wanted more choice in naming their children. Therefore, the custom of celebrating both birthdays and the day of one's patron was introduced. 

5. Which other countries celebrate name days?

Outside Poland, traditions of celebrating name days can be found for example, in Bulgaria, Greece, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Latvia and in Catholic regions of Germany, e.g. Bavaria.

However, outside these countries, people do not know much about the custom of celebrating name days.

6. Which Polish name days are most popular?

According to the average number of searches for name days in the Google, the most popular name days in Poland are:

Women: Anna, Katarzyna, Elżbieta, Agnieszka, Krystyna, Joanna. 
Men: Krzysztof, Andrzej, Marcin, Jan, Piotr.

There are also name days that have turned into a tradition and are celebrated not only by the name day person, e.g. Jan's (John) name day - June 22 (Midsummer Night), Nicholas Day ("Mikołajki" - December 6), or New Year's Eve ("Sylwester" - December 31). In autumn, these are Katarzyna's name day - November 25 ("Katarzynki") and Andrzej's name day ("Andrzejki" - November 30). Andrzejki is an opportunity for fortune-telling and fun. Barbara's name day (December 4) is the so-called St. Barbara's Day, or "Barbórka", patron saint of miners, celebrated especially in the Silesia region.

Popular proverbs are also associated with name days, e.g. "Saint Anna brings cold evenings and mornings." (Anna's name day - July 26.)

7. What kind of flowers to give for name day in Poland?

What types of flowers are given for name days in Poland? Unlike, for example, Women's Day, there is no one typical and traditional name day flower in Poland. Choose name day flowers depending on your relationship with the recipient, their favorite colors/flowers or the season.

What name day bouquet for a loved one?
Red roses are appropriate name day flowers for someone you love; your wife, girlfriend, partner.

For loved ones

What name day bouquet for family and friends?
For the name days of other family members and friends, multicolored bouquets are recommended, especially joyful, colorful compositions of mixed flowers or more subdued compositions.

For family & friends

What name day bouquet for business partners, co-workers, boss?
For the name days of people with whom we have professional relations, we recommend mixed bouquets: colorful compositions of mixed flowers, or their pastel, elegant versions.

Corporate name day bestsellers

What flowers we recommend for a name day also depends on the month of the name day and the corresponding flower season, e.g.:

What flowers for Anna's name day?
On Anna's name day in July, sunflowers are readily available. Sunflowers and dahlias are the most popular seasonal flowers for Anna's name day.

What flowers for Adam and Eve's name day?
In December, when it is Eve and Adam's name day, many people reach for poinsettia's or beautiful amaryllis - the most beautiful flowers of this season.

What flowers for Barbara's name day?
Similarly, in the case of flowers for "Barbórka" and for Barbara. The most popular seasonal flowers for Barbara's name day (December 4) are amaryllis and poinsettias in a pot.

What flowers for Krystyna's name day?
Krystyna's name day is most often celebrated on March 13 and July 24. For Krystyna's name day, tulips are very popular in March, and in July - sunflowers and dahlias.

What flowers for Bożena's name day?
Bożena's name day is most often celebrated on March 13 or June 20. For Bożena's name day in March, the most popular are tulips, and in June - peonies.

What flowers for Monika's name day?
Monika's name day is most often celebrated on May 4 or August 27. The most popular flowers for Monika's name day in March are tulips, and in August - sunflowers.

8. Do you send wishes for name days in Poland?

Yes, if you know what day a person celebrates, wishes are always a nice gesture.
If you are not sure whether a given person celebrates their name day on a given or other day, it is worth asking their loved ones.

9. What do you wish someone on their name day?

Polish name day wishes are very similar to birthday wishes. On someone's name day, you wish, for example, health, happiness, prosperity, successes in private and professional life, or love.

For a ready list of elegant name day wishes, please visit our post:

10. What do you give for a name day in Poland?

What in an appropriate and suitable gift for your partner, in-laws, friends, boss or other person for their name day? It depends on the relationship, budget and... circumstances.

If you have been invited to an official name day party, or if someone close to you traditionally prefers to celebrate name days instead of birthdays, a gift of greater value will be appropriate. It can be a gift tailored to the person's likes and interests, or a nice universal gift set, e.g.:

Gifts for a name day party

However, in situations when the name day person does not organize any parties or gatherings, many of our customers choose a symbolic gift of a lower value. 
Often it is a bouquet of flowers + a bottle of wine, a bouquet + chocolates, or even just the bouquet alone. The most popular bouquets sent on name days are:

Name day bestsellers

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