The custom originated with the Greek Orthodox calendar of Saints and people named after a particular saint would celebrate on that day. Traditionally children will celebrate both their birthday and name day equally, with some differences but as they get older they tend to just focus on one. (according to Wikipedia anyway!)
In previous years Leo has had no idea of it being his name day as he was too young too understand, even birthdays were not really understood, but this year I knew he would appreciate it more. At school he often receives a small chocolate or sweet from various children as they take them to hand out on their respective days. Leo was very excited to take in a bag of mini chocolate bars to hand out to his teachers and friends, and even more pleased to get two of them himself!
When he arrived at school all the teachers came up to him and hugged and kissed him, and he tells me that later on the class sang him a special song. He was beaming when I collected him having really enjoyed his special day. I'm pleased that we have given both of our sons Greek names and they can have their own celebration like all their friends.
As my Mum loves making cards she continued her tradition of making him one for his name day and this years was great, I gave it to his with his breakfast.
He was really pleased when he opened it, and excited that his Thomas was 'chuffing his name'. Then, after seeing his picture was confused as to when Nana had taken a photo of him driving Thomas! He then was a little sad as he wanted to actually go and drive Thomas and I tried to explain that Thomas wasn't real - backtracking slightly after seeing his hurt face, Thomas is magic and lives on the Island of Sodor which is why we can't actually go on him. After telling him it was time for school, he replied 'But I don't want to go to school, I want to go to the island of Sodor' Luckily he soon forgot about that as he remembered the chocolates he was taking!
After school we went for a 'Name Day' picnic in the park with some friends, including my friend Pennie and her son who is also called Leonidas. Leo and I had made some cakes the day before decorated with 'L's and proudly gave them out to the other kids, well after I had explained they were not just for the kids whose names started with L!
Unfortunately it was really windy and quite chilly in the park, not that the kids seemed to mind and we didn't stay as long as we normally would but it was still a nice afternoon, although I managed not to take a single photo!
I love marking the occasion and it proves that it's not all about presents as Leo enjoyed the whole day for being special, and asked 'when will it be my name day again Mama?'