Monday, January 18, 2010

What in the World are Name Days?

In my early days in Korea I learned among the Catholics their name day was more important than the birthdays. The name day is the feast day of the saint whose name one is given at baptism. I never actually averted to my name day until I came to Korea. It was thanks to the French missionaries that the custom started and was very strong among the old Catholics. Even today the priest's name day is celebrated with some fanfare.

The Peace Weekly has an article in which a parish priest has made this a part of church life. He felt that it wasn't right just to have the priest's name day celebrated and ignore the many parishioners who also have a name date; so in the parish each first Sunday of the month was a day to remember those commemorating their name day during that month.

The parish would send out cards to all those whose name day would be celebrated during the month and invite them to attend the main Mass on Sunday. They would sit in the front seats and
receive communion under both species. At the end of Mass the priest would give each one a rose and a blessing. The choir would sing a song of congratulations.

There are always 30 roses that are prepared in the front of the altar for those that might attend.
In this parish the custom started right from the beginning of the the parish back in 2005. The invitations are sent out to all those who have a name day coming up during the month even if they are not coming out to church. The pastor mentions that there have been many who attending the name date ceremony have used that occasion to join the community after having left it years before.

The younger Catholics do not have the same attraction to their name day and it is with traditions like these that will see the custom of remembering your name day continue in the Church of Korea. It is a good custom because it is also a time to renew your acquaintance with your patron saint, meditate on his life and recall the mission that we were given at baptism.