Monday, April 16, 2012

N ~ Namnsdag = name's-day

Well, fellow alphabet fans, I just got an education. A lot has changed regarding today's topic, and reading the history of those changes just cracked me up. It's another example of the evils of bureaucracy. I'm glad there's wikipedia, and I'm glad that they have a Swedish version, not just an English page translated into Swedish. There's a HUGE difference. I'm writing about the Swedish custom of having a name associated with a day of the year. In English the translation is name's-day. The Swedish word is namnsdag.

numb + s + dog = numbsdog, as in my butt's numb from sitting here on this wooden bench waiting for my dog.

Throughout Sweden's history, the days of the calendar have had names associated with them. I won't take you through all the amusing history of why certain names were changed, or the uproar about it having 60% male names, or that in one period of time, there were three names on each day. It's a classic case of trying to please all of the people all of the time. Things seem to have quieted down since 2001 when each day was assigned two names. Sometimes the male and female version of a name, sometimes the old-fashioned and the newer version of the name, and some days do still have a single name, if it was a day with a saint's name. Personally, I think what they're doing now is good. They're mostly leaving the old names there, but the second names will now change from time to time as the popularity of certain names come and go.

Just thinking about the US having this sort of tradition throws me into fits of giggles. As a teacher, we had years with four Megans in a class. Of course each of them spelled their name differently. What's a name calendar to do? Do we devote four whole days to Megan, Meghan, Meagan and Megen? Or do we leave her off so we can include Tiffany and Brittany, Britney, and Brittenie? Boggles the mind and slows down a committee.

So let's leave history behind and go on to celebrating.

I remember fondly how Farmor would make a big deal of our namnsdag. We got almost as much attention as on our birthday. The child of the day would take the quick walk through the woods to her house after school. Waiting for us was a tray with one of her special hand-embroidered small table-cloths, a candle, a piece of our favorite cake (mine was lemon spongecake) and a cup of hot chocolate. Next to the tray was our present. Farmor would join me at the table with similar treats. That table is the exact table I'm sitting at now -I have her kitchen set in my kitchen. 

Another favorite part of this celebration was that no other siblings got to be there. It was cherished alone time with Farmor. The gift was usually something hand-made. She loved to knit and did many different kinds of needlework. She made all of our doll-clothes, and as we got older, she even made clothes for our Barbies, though she wasn't much of a fan. I've saved all of those for my daughters, but since I was blessed with sons, they are waiting patiently for my future granddaughters to play with.  

I leave you today with April's namnsdagskalender.
That didn't work.  
I leave you with LINK to April's namnsdagskalender.

P.S Yes, in Swedish, instead of having adjectives, they make compound words - as you see above in namsdagskalendar.  It can get rather hilarious from time to time.  The Swede and I used to compete to see who could make the longest one.  He always won.

If you missed a visit to the A-Z Blog on Sunday, head on over there for my half-time pep-talk, and a chance to grab the nifty "next blog" and "surprise me" buttons for YOUR blog.  They're not just for co-hosts anymore!


Jeremy [Retro] said...

okay i am stuck at your pronunciation of the word, i giggled a little. is that wrong?

Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
A to Z Co-Host
My New Book:
Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

Laurita said...

I love learning these new words, but even more I love the traditions and the sense of family.

Brian Miller said...

this is pretty cool...i imagine names have to share days what with all the creative names people use these days...the pronunciation is pretty funny...

Sarah Ross said...

Thank you for sharing, it's great to discover the customs of other cultures and see how wildly they differ to our own. And thanks for teaching me a new word!

Unknown said...

Mine's August 11 - see? I went through the whole lot to find my, how can I persuade everyone to be extra nice to me on that day (and lemon sponge cake wouldn't be a bad idea either) I'm still going to my stuga on my Hast, or even in my Bil, haven't decided yet.

Matthew MacNish said...

This reminds me of Game of Thrones.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds confusing.
And I looked. Bummer, I don't get my own day.

Inger said...

Thanks for this information, I had no idea it is or was such a big deal in Sweden. Nor did I know there was a Swedish version of Wikipedia -- is it at I'll look later. I didn't have a namesday, Inger was not included. But Elisabeth, my middle name was. I don't recall a celebration like you had with your farmor. Loved reading about her.

Lynn Proctor said...

lemon sponge cake sounds so good--great post

~Sia McKye~ said...

Complicated thing, Namsdag.

I hadn't a chance to read many of your posts this time around. I've spent a bit of time catching up. My mother would love your posts. Her Grandmother was from Sweden (btw, mom and I don't share blood but she's mom). Her family is from Minnesota and Wisconsin--big surprise, huh?


Sush said...

KInda like numb nuts? Loved your post today! Happy name day and btw I have a Life Is Good sign in my home!

Sonia Lal said...

It's sounds like a lot of fun. I thought Name's Day was the birthday. Not, huh?

Sonia Lal, A to Z challenge

Heather Murphy said...

Interesting tradition. There were 7 Heathers in my senior class so I think we should have our own week :)

The Poet said...

My first time participating in the challenge and my first time here.
It seems each day I learn something new. Fascinating information. Thanks for sharing.


Annalisa Crawford said...

That's so cool. I guess there isn't the competition in Sweden then to make up the weirdest names possible for kids - eg Apple?

Unknown said...

Hej Tina!
Om du skickar din snigelpostadress till min e-post adress, kan jag skicka en svensk ordbok till dig, om du vill ha en. Vad sägs om Svenska Akademiens Ordlista? Jag tror att du behöver titta på stavningen på dina utvalda ord så att du inte lär ut några felaktigheter. Ordet 'namn' har två 'n'. Ledsen.

Annars är namnsdag är ett utmärkt ordval för N-dagen. Jag tror att upprinnelsen till namnsdagarna var helgondagarna. Före Reformationen (c:a 1500) var hela Europa katolskt. Namnsdagarna i almanackan är en kvarleva från den tiden som mer och mer har försvenskats.

Jag förstår att du inte vill tynga ner dina trevliga, lättsamma texter med för många torra historiska fakta. Det är därför det finns (och i ännu högre grad fanns tidigare) en del märkliga icke-nordiska namn som ingen hette, t.ex Bartholomeus.

'Inger' har visst en namnsdag! Den 9 oktober, tillsammans med 'Ingrid'.

of Anna's Adornments


Min e-post adress är:

adornment [at] live [dot] se