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Monday, May 22, 2006 

What's In a Name?

The Saints: Constantinos and Eleni

Yesterday was a very busy day for my family and millions of other Greek families. May 21 is the Name Day for Constantinos and Eleni. Since my husband's name is Constantinos, we hosted a barbecue for friends and family to celebrate the occasion with us. Since 100% of all Greeks are either named Constantinos or Eleni or related to someone with those names, they were out celebrating as well. This was the reason my husband's aunt who lives in Penteli, spent nearly an hour in traffic getting to our house in south Athens. Despite the hassle, she managed to make it on time along with 20 other people for what proved to be a great feast.

I was run ragged preparing the food, the coffees, and just being the general information centre for our guests with all their requests. It soon becomes quite stressful when I'm trying to get the food upstairs for grilling and all the while I'm constantly being bombarded with requests for more ice cubes, extra cutlery for the kids who can't manage to keep their forks from becoming projectile missiles, sunscreen for the paranoid, baseball caps for the kids to prevent them from getting sunstroke, and so on. In between all these requests, I have to make sure each guest feels welcomed and no one gets left by themselves in a corner watching all the action but too shy to include themselves. Usually, this isn't a problem if it's just a regular party where the food is set out buffet style and all I have to do is mingle. But it's hard to cook, serve, and talk about one guest's dating problems, another's work problems, and another's business problems. I think I managed to give some good advice as long as Guest 1 isn't dating Guest 3's wife today and Guest 3 never hired Guest 2 at his company. If they're all returning my calls this week then I think it's safe to presume I really am the Hostess with the Mostess.

As for the gifts, my husband now has two of everything--two bottles of cologne, two cakes, two shirts, two cd's, two business card holders, two wallets and two pens. Combined with the birthday gifts he received in February, he has 4 of everything which means that, by Christmas, he will have enough inventory to open his own gift shop.

I'm just surprised at myself for having the restraint all these years to keep my given non-Christian name and not trading it in for a Greek Orthodox sanctioned name just to have the excuse to throw a Name Day party for myself. I wonder how many people would show up if I changed my name to Eleni Dimitra Maria Evangelia Vassiliki Seawitchakou. I wonder how long it would take for people to figure out what I was up to? Maybe they'll accuse me of being a Name Fraud but I think it's definitely a case of the ends justifying the means.

Seawitchakou! That is freakin hilarious. Choked on my tea, yet again! Don't be surprised if all us wanna-be-greeks start calling you "Seawitchakou" (or Seawitchaki ?) Maybe making a fool of myself and my limited greek but what the hell?

What is the Greek version of Frank?

Eleni Dimitra Maria Evangelia Vassiliki Seawitchakou.





Maybe I should trade in my given name, Athena, for something namesday gift-worthy too. I think I'll go for Yianna (Yiannides have about 45 separate namesdays all year long, hee-hee).

To be fair, all the ancient Greek goddesses, nymphs and other female cast members have been packed by the church in September 1st. Unfortunately, tradition says mythological names are an ecclesiastical no-no and that is why my namesday isn't widely known. My husband happens to also have a non-saint name so we just do birthdays.

You might be happy to learn that there is also an 'All Saints' day ('Agiwn Pantwn'), though I forget when it is, for all the rest of the mortals to celebrate!

All you have to do is host a party and make sure everyone knows what it is for. And demand gifts.


My husband is getting bad about name days. I had to beg him to call his sister yesterday. He knows about a dozen Kostas, a couple pretty close, that he didn't call. He has an aunt Eleni and a cousin Elena that he didn't call.

I don't know if I can ever do that major hosting party thing. I've thought about it, with Thanksgiving, but sheesh. Somehow it seems to be asking a lot of myself when it comes to Greek relatives.

Well I´ve told you many many times that you´ve already got a Greek name. You should have celebrated that name day! It´d have brought in the gifts.

As for the infamous Konstantinos / Eleni name day. Jeez... talk about making thousands of calls. Why can´t Greeks stop naming their kids after their parents and put a stop to all this. Why can´t we get like the American celebs and start calling our children Moonbeam or Rainbow. I don´t think either one of those names requires a name day! :-)

Heh. My Greek boyfriend's name was (and still is, I suppose) Constantinos. :-)

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