Having whined about the Czech calendar and its non-Gregorian month names in my last post, it’s time to talk about the coolest aspect of the Czech calendar: name days. There’s a limited canon of accepted ‘normal’ first names (maybe 400?) in Czech; everyone who has a ‘normal’ name gets a name day, which is marked in the calendar. Thus, all the Jaroslavs celebrate together on one day; all the Petras on another, and so forth. Dan, I’m happy to report, is part of the canon, so I get a name day on Dec 17th where I get together with my friend ‘Big Dan’ and have a shot.
In terms of the stature afforded to name days, it’s basically halfway between a normal day and one’s birthday. Thus: name day = (birthday + normal day) / 2.
Petr Bokuvka’s post on this subject over at The Czech Daily World brought to mind two additional points on this topic. First, as Bokuvka points out, both Adam and Eve (Eva) celebrate their name day on Christmas Day (December 24th in Czech). An Adam I know here told me that this produces a dynamic where whenever an Adam meets an Eve here (there are lots of each), they immediately get to bond about the shared experience of getting screwed out of name day presents by Christmas, etc. Cool.
Also, Bokuvka pointed out something I didn’t know: weirdly, the Czech calendar has doubled up on Peter (Petr) by giving him two name days – one by himself on February 22nd and then another that he shares with Paul (Pavel) on June 29th. As I wrote in the comments section of his post, this gives you the opportunity to literally rob Peter in order to pay Paul, as you could skip buying the former a present in order to buy one for the latter… or, to take it even more literally, by stealing Peter’s present and redistributing it to Paul. Seeing as Peter gets two name days, he probably deserves it.