What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?


For those of you who may not be familiar with Name Days, it is a tradition amongst many cultures that consists of celebrating the day of the year associated with one’s given name.

Most of the Greeks are named after their grandparents, who were named after their grandparents, who were named after their grandparents, who were named after a Saint.

On someone’s Saint’s Day, friends and family will visit that person without invitation and offer their wishes and sometimes a small gift. As a child I found this absolutely wonderful as I technically had two birthdays a year. As an adult I spend my Name day in hiding, quivering with fear every time the phone rings or there is an unexpected knock on the door.

My name day is today, the 25th November – I was named after my Greek grandmother Ekaterina, who was named after Saint Merkourios / Aikaterinis, Katerina  / Ekaterini of Alexandria (Catherine).

Ekaterina e-kateri-na,  is of Greek origin (obviously), and the meaning of Ekaterina is “pure”.

There is also a possibility that the name derives from Hecate, the Greek goddess of magic and also from the Greek word “katateino” meaning torture. Saint Aikaterine of Alexandria was born a pagan but died a Christian martyr after she was tortured and died on the breaking wheel for condemning the persecution of the Christians.

The Catherine Wheel firework is named after her.

So roughly translated, my name means Pure Greek Torture.

Well what else did you expect?

Of course on this day many other variations of the name Ekaterina are also celebrated including: Katrina, Katy, Catherine, Katia, Karen, Kitty, Katelyn etc.

A forgotten Name Day is ranked as one of the highest insults in Greek culture and will not be easily forgiven. So here’s wishing everybody who was named after me…er…I mean Saint Aikaterina / Katherine, a very happy name day! Xronia pola!

Photo credit: wikipedia


Leave a Reply


  1. 25th November 2016 / 12:47 pm

    Xronia Pola Ekaterina kai na ta ekatostisis!

    What a glorious name, and what an interesting explanation of where it derives from with so many branches reaching back to ancient Greece and, more recently, to Christendom and our honoured Saints.

    • Ekaterina
      25th November 2016 / 1:08 pm

      Thank you Alex! 🙂

  2. 25th November 2013 / 9:14 pm

    Happy name day! Being Italian, I know exactly what you mean. We call it nomastico, but I’m sure everyone calls it something. Name day is a good term! Enjoy!

  3. Salem Hanna
    25th November 2013 / 1:59 pm

    ‘Pure Greek torture’…could be worse. I had to explain to an American girl yesterday that I wasn’t actually the pet cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

    • EBotziou
      25th November 2013 / 2:00 pm

      Hahaha Sal you crack me up.

  4. 25th November 2013 / 1:55 pm

    Happy Name Day Ekaterina. I guess my name day would be on boxing day or St. Stephens day. Blimey, all my days are in one week. Christmas, name day, birthday and New Year. Having just learnt about name days, I had hoped mine would have been in ANY other part of the year!!

    • EBotziou
      25th November 2013 / 2:00 pm

      Thank you!

  5. 25th November 2013 / 1:14 pm

    Happy Name Day – does one say ‘Chronia Polla?’

    • EBotziou
      25th November 2013 / 1:32 pm

      Yes Xronia pola! Efharistou!

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