Dneska má svátek: Daniela

If you look closely at the screenshot on the left, you'll see the line which has today's date--úterý, 9 září followed by svátek má Daniela.  This translates to, "Daniela has a holiday."  In case you don't visit Seznam.cz daily, you could also read the same information outside a floral shop, or at least see Daniela's name in your daily calendar.  Still not catching on?  It means that Daniela has her name day today.  In case that gives no further clarification, let me step back.  Every person has a day of birth, and in the Czech Republic, (nearly) every person also has a name day.

Here, it's very important that each person have a "real" name.  If you're curious as to what those"real names" consist of, just have a look into any calendar or planner, and you'll see one or two names written per day--often a male and a female , but sometimes just one, like on December 26th, the day of Štěpán, or St. Stephen's day.  By law, parents must name their children real names, and names not coming from the approved list require appeal.  (As a foreigner, if I married a Czech, I would probably have no problem giving my child any name I wanted.)

A few times here, I have been asked, "Kdy máš svátek?" (When's your name day?).

Well, "Charity" isn't exactly on the Czech calendar.  My first year here, my colleagues tried to remedy this by giving me a Czech name.  Unwilling to accept a Czech name devoid of the depth of meaning of Charity, I was finally christened with the very old-fashioned name Bohumila, which means something to the effect of "beloved of God."  I was satisfied with the name, but dissatisfied with the name day, which sits with other religious names in the Christmas season.  Thus, Bohumila's holiday is 28 December.  This isn't exactly ideal for a day to be remembered by colleagues and casual acquaintances.  For, though birthdays can easily remain mysteries, anyone with a calendar can figure out a name day.  But I digress.

In regards to my Bohumila existence, the name has mostly been used by my adoptive Czech grandmother and hers in the local church congregation.  In the past, it was also playfully used by my now boyfriend.  Nevertheless, I have never been wished a happy name day on 28 December.

This winter one woman eager to honour me surprised me with chocolate on 19 December--Ester.  This is the Czech equivalent of my Hebrew middle name.


The other day, my boyfriend asked me "Kdy máš svátek?"  He heard the sad old tale that I didn't actually have a name day, though I could have suggested adopting the day of the name his parents refer to me by due to it's (somewhat) phonetic similarity to Charity: Šarka.  (I like the name because it sounds like "shark.")  That would land me on 30 June--but suggesting Šarka's day didn't occur to me.

Today (happy name day, Danielas of the world!), I met my boyfriend--my brain full of 6-year-olds and international banking--and he surprised me with the words, "Dneska máš svátek," as he whipped out some lilies and a well-designed (and tasty) bar of chocolate.  Well, I'm not Daniela, but who's to complain?  Perhaps it's better being a foreigner with no native name day.  That means that June 30, December 19, December 29, or even September 9, I might be surprised with a gift for "my" svátek.

10 days later and they're a bit out of control


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