Birthdays (and Name Days)

I want to thank everyone for the birthday wishes on Facebook, by email, and through the mail (yes, you can send me mail! Contact me if you’d like my mailing address). This year, my birthday was on Maundy Thursday, and it was the first day of our Spring Break. I had a relaxing day, and did some of my favorite things. In the morning, I had a Hungarian lesson (learning a language makes my left-brain really happy), and afterwards, I went to the family shelter I volunteer with once a week. They had a day full of activities for the kids of all ages, and we made some cute Easter crafts and had lunch. I spent some time exploring the park around the lookout tower on my walk home, since it was so nice outside. In the evening, I attended the Maundy Thursday service with communion at the downtown church. The Eucharist was particularly memorable on this day, since the painting behind the altar is Jesus praying in the garden.

Hungarians usually celebrate their birthday with a small gathering with family and close friends. It’s more common to celebrate your name day. Every day has a traditional Hungarian name associated with it, which started from the Catholic tradition of a saint’s feast day. Some popular names have more than one day, so you can choose when you celebrate it. If you’re name isn’t officially included on the name day calendar, you get to choose your own (or one similar to yours). Many calendars are published with the names for that day, and it’s also published in newspapers, magazines, and some stores, or you can find it out online. In my community, people usually bring their coworkers or choir members pogácsa (savory scones), homemade treats, or other home-cooked food (fried chicken, salads, bread, etc.) People usually give you a small gift: women typically receive flowers or chocolates, while men typically receive a bottle of liquor. The students say that they usually have a party with family and friends to celebrate their name day, and some students will bring treats for their class.

You can find a list of traditional Hungarian name days alphabetically here, or by calendar date here.   Unfortunately, my name is not a traditional Hungarian name (thanks, Mom and Dad), so I don’t have a name day. Since Kirsten is a Scandinavian form of Kristina, I would celebrate my name day on August 5 (Krisztina). When is your name day?

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A typical name day spread: fried meatballs, homemade treats (turos taska), snacks (peanut puffs), bread, pickles, and fresh wine.
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