Have you ever noticed that Greek families all seem to be named after the same relative? It’s customary in Greek culture to name the firstborn boy after his papou, the father’s father, and the firstborn girl after her yiayia, the father’s mother. Subsequent children are named after the mother’s side of the family.
According to the Greek Orthodox faith, though, children are supposed to be named after the saint whose feast day they are born on.
A child born on December 27 would be named after Saint Stephen. Stephen was one of the first deacons of the Church. However, after a vicious argument, he was accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death by stoning. Standing up for himself and his beliefs, he said that those Church leaders were the very people who persecuted the prophets. He is now recognized as a martyr.
The name “Stephen” comes from the Greek word “stephanos,” which translates to “crowned.”
My birthday is not December 27 nor was my yiayia’s name Stephania, so my name is a bit of a break from the Greek culture. I’m actually named after my father’s stepfather. And yes, family reunions can get a bit confusing, with my cousin Stefanos and I both responding to “Stef.”
Today I’ll be celebrating my name with my family!
How did you get your name? Do you celebrate your name day?