Name Days

Well, I'm back in the old CZ, but at a new job at the beginning of a new school year.  As such, there are many people to meet and many names to memorize.  Last night, my roommate casually said, "Hanka made those."  To which I replied, "Which Hanka?"  Many of you may have the experience of having to clarify which Ashley, Jessica, Lindsey, Jenn, etc.  Here, the problem is confounded ten-fold because of naming procedures.

In the Czech Republic, there is a list of names that Czechs choose their names from when naming children.  This hearkens back to Catholic saints' days as well as imposed regulations under Communism.  In a way, it's less strict now, but there is still the idea that you need to give your child a real name.  If you want a name that's not on the list, you'll have to make an appeal, and it may be rejected.  Though this may seem a bit constricting, there are certain benefits, namely Name Days.  If you own a Czech planner or calendar, you'll notice that there are names written on each day of the year.  Today is September 1st and my calendar says "Linda, Samuel, Drahoslava."  (My planner is Czech and Slovak, and "Drahoslava" is today's Slovak name day; Drahoslava is July 9th in the Czech Republic.)  On your name day, you may have someone shake your hand, give you a kiss and chocolates, and wish you a happy name day.  It's not as important as birthdays to Czechs and Slovaks, but it's still often recognized.

It was because I didn't have a name day that my colleagues were inspired to give me a Czech name last year.  We flipped through the calendar, trying to find one that wouldn't be found during a holiday.  I've since learned that Czechs' idea of a nice-sounding name and my idea can greatly differ.  So, after rejecting a few suggestions, they tried to find one that means something similar to my name, Charity.  We finally settled on Bohumila.  These means something like "beloved of God."  Now, Czechs laugh if I introduce myself as such.  It's gives off the same feeling as something like Agnes--it's a grandma name.  Nonetheless, I like my Czech name, and I typically use it when someone struggles to pronounce my name.  Ironically, that someone is usually a grandma.  So, I gained a Czech name, but it does fall during the holidays.  My name day?  December 28th.  So, mark your calendars, and send me some chocolate (I prefer dark).


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