What’s in a name?
By Michelle Duppong
November is a special time in the liturgical year when we call to mind the communion of saints. With November 1 being the feast of All Saints and November 2 being All Souls’ Day (where we are reminded to pray that the holy souls in purgatory may soon enter heaven), I thought it would be a good time to talk about namedays.
So, what’s in a name? The Catechism states (paragraph 2158): “God calls each one by name. Everyone’s name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it.” Let this thought soak in for a minute.
When growing up, my parents used to talk about their dads’ Name’s Day parties. When December 27 (the feast of St. John the Apostle) rolled around, my mom’s folks would invite all their relatives and friends over after supper for an evening of celebrating and socializing. On the feast of St. William, my dad’s parents would host a party. Both shared how special these gatherings were as the grown-ups would visit and enjoy the refreshments until the card playing began, which would go into the wee hours of the morning, and the kids got to run wild in the basement with their cousins and friends. Oh, how the kids relished the treat of getting to drink pop at these parties! These were even more special than birthdays.
During this Year of Faith, I have proposed ways to incorporate the faith into our daily lives. Why not begin the tradition of celebrating the feast days of each member of your family? You may be wondering how to pick a patron saint. Here are some tips:
- Start off with your first name. Do some research to see if there are any saints with that name or if your name is a derivative of a saint’s name. (Example: Andrea is a derivative of Andrew.) If not, move on to your middle name.
- If there are multiple saints with your name, choose the most common one or the one whose story speaks to you most.
- If neither your first nor middle names are after saints, go with your confirmation saint.
- There are books available with saints’ names and feasts—as well as ample sites on the internet. A particular resource that may be helpful is “The Nameday Book” compiled by Sr. Theodora of the Trinity.