Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Greek Custom: Celebrate Your Name Day | World Cup for Kids Project

This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs World Cup for Kids Project. Each time Greece plays, I will be posting about something you can do with your kids to get to know the Greek culture. You can follow along with each country playing in the World Cup herefind our introduction and schedule here.

In Greece, name days are an important celebration - they are as festively celebrated as birthdays for kids, and they are generally celebrated rather than birthdays, particularly after the age of 12. 

Based on the Greek Orthodox tradition, nearly every day of the year is dedicated to a saint or martyr. Those born into Greek Orthodox families (95% of the Greek population) are named after a saint, and their name day is celebrated on the saint's day. 

Name days are celebrated with gifts and sweets, much like a birthday. Family and friends drop by to celebrate with wishes of Kronia Pola! (meaning "many happy years") bearing gifts, and the celebrating host offers food and entertainment. 

Our World Cup posts about Greece include interesting facts about the country as well as a recipe for a popular drink kids enjoy, here, a list of books kids will enjoy here, and a craft making Greek worry beads here.

Celebrate Your Name Day

A fun way to get to know the Greek culture is by taking part in Greek celebrations. Why not celebrate your name day, inspired by Greek traditions.

First, find out when your name day is: find a list of North American names and their corresponding "name days" here. On your name day, host a family celebration with Greek music, food and fun.

Serve some Greek mezze, small plates of snacks like olives, spanakopita, pita with hummus and tzazkiki , and baklava - most of these can be found in prepared food or ethnic sections of your supermarket. 

Whether traditional or modern, festivities need music. Listen to these playlists and have fun dancing to the beats.

Here's a great playlist with classic Sirtaki music, you'll want to put your arms around each others shoulders and dance:

Here's an hour long playlist of pop Greek music:

Smash a plate

Here's an activity inspired by Greek customs. Despite popular perceptions, Greeks do not routinely go around breaking all of their dishes in fits of passion - though plate smashing is a folk custom that these days is occasionally observed during weddings, as an expression of kefi: the irrepressible spirit of joy, passion, enthusiasm and frenzy. 

Pea celebrated a birthday at a Greek restaurant a couple of years ago, and she was offered a plate to smash outside - she loved it, and saved a piece of it. As a take on the Greek custom, personalize a dollar store plate by having your family take a permanent marker and sign it with best wishes on your name day. Then take it outside, and throw it onto a hard surface, like a sidewalk, while shouting Opa!

I recommend this for older kids, using a small plate to minimize the danger of shards, and do follow the notes of caution below.

Do take caution if you try this
-don't do this inside
-throw plate away from you - not immediately at your feet
-make sure no one is near where you are throwing the plate
-do not throw at someone
-close your eyes upon throwing
-clean up all shards afterwords
-don't run around barefoot near the area until it is completely cleaned up

Hope you enjoy a fun and festive name day!

Don't forget to find out about what other bloggers and families are doing to follow along with the World Cup and learning about different cultures. I've outlined how it works in my introduction and will be featuring other posts on our Facebook page.

You can find more multicultural and historical kid friendly activities at the following linkups:

You can find more creative and kid friendly activities at the following linkups:


  1. I think we break enough dishes on accident without deliberately breaking some.....

    My friend from Latvia says they have Name Day celebrations, and it's on the calendar and it would be announced on the radio, "Today is Matiss' name day, don't forget to wish your friends named Matiss 'happy name day." So then all day long you'd get special wishes. That does sound wonderful.

    1. Haha, I know what you mean - broken dishes are a regular affair here, but doing it with intention, now that's fun!
      I think there are a few countries in Eastern Europe that celebrate name days...

  2. I didn't know that either! I must have waaay too much time at the beach during the summers I spent in Greece!

    1. Lol! No such thing as too much time at the beach!

  3. I used to looove dancing sirtaki! Fun info :)

    1. I just love sirtaki music - but I may be playing it too often as I've been getting groans from the rest of the family :)

  4. This is so much fun. I can imagine that my kids would think I was crazy at first and then get really into it.

    1. It's always fun to have an excuse for another celebration :) And all kids love to break stuff (frankly, give the chance I think most adults do too!)


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