Name the Day
In Finland, people not only celebrate their birthdays each year, but their name days as well. The tradition of assigning names to specific dates stretches back to medieval times. Finns are renowned for their efficiency and organisational skills, so perhaps it may not come as a surprise to discover that a combined press run of around 14 million calendars is published in Finland each year.
The practice of name days, whereby a name or set of names is assigned to each day in the calendar, has deep roots in Finnish culture. Following this we have the Finnish names from the time of our national awakening, and then all kinds of newer names related to recent international influences.
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Nowadays name days are often celebrated with pastries, like this football-themed cake for Ronja. Photo: Sabrina Salzano. As the importance of name days changed over the centuries, so did the various traditions associated with it. Finns no longer put a name day tree on the table in the hope of having presents placed under it, nor do they raise a decorated pole in the backyard, yet the tradition still holds special significance for many people. But they can always celebrate their name day.
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The Finnish name day calendar presently contains names; the list is updated every fifth year. The main criterion for inclusion is quantity — at least children must have the name. The list for contains a number of new names, yet none are being removed from the calendar. Due to fluctuating popularity over the years, Saarelma-Paukkala explains, many names will eventually return to favour. In addition, certain evergreen names, such as Matti, Juhani, Anna and Maria, continue to enjoy popularity among parents.
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With these towel holders, everyone with a Finnish name can be a star. Meanwhile, the most popular first names among Swedish-speaking Finns that year were Ellen and Emil.
Finland is officially bilingual and 5. In fact, Finland-Swedes also have a name day calendar of their own for celebrating Swedish-language names.
Find your Name Day in the calendar
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Name Day – what is it, where it comes from, and how is it celebrated?
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