Visitors are always welcome, regardless of their denomination, to attend services at the main churches of the island.
Even when there isn't a service and if the church is open, visitors are welcome to enjoy looking inside or to take the opportunity for some quiet meditation. The churches are not museums but working places of worship and visitors should respect customs and not wear immodest attire, speak loudly or take photos of the interiors. Ladies if you sit down, remember not to cross your legs as it is deemed immodest.
According to Greek Orthodox tradition, every day of the year is dedicated to a Christian saint or martyr. January 7 for example, is the day of Saint John the Baptist and it is the name day for all Greek people named Yannis (or Ioannis = John, male) or Yanna (or Ioanna, female).
A person's Name Day is considered more important than the same person's actual birthday and it is always celebrated in Greece.
How do Greek people celebrate their name days?
Firstly, they will probably go the church or chapel bearing their name e.g If their name is Dimitris, they will go to the church service in the morning at Ayios Dimitrios, where the church will be beautifully decorated with flags, flowers and special icons and candles.
If a friend of yours has a name day, then you should give him them call and wish them "Chronia Polla". If this is translated, then it means "Many Years" and it is a wish for good health and prosperity. You should ask them if they will accept visits at their house.
For birthday parties people invite their friends to their house for a drink or a birthday party but for name days this does not apply. It is up to you to visit your friend and wish them well for their name day. Bringing a gift is necessary. Flowers or liquor are ok, as well as books, music CDs or something more personal. It is also possible that your friend will invite you to a taverna or a bar on his name day. or may even have a name day party at their house. A gift is welcome in this case too.
Many Greek names have English translations.To see whether your name has Greek origins and to find out the meaning, click on the link below. Those with a star (*) change every year. As you will see, most name days do not coincide with catholic or protestant name days. The names are in Greek alphabetical order!
Greek Easter Sunday 16 April
Visitors to this site since 2007