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All Saints Day – Orthodox Churches

(from the Facebook page of Holy Church of St. John the Forerunner, Greek Orthodox Church, Carlton)

This Sunday, June 11th 2023, is All Saints Day within the Orthodox Church. If you are unable to find the name for a specific saint, or your own patron saint we tend to celebrate your name day on this Sunday. Every saint in the church is honoured on this day. For the first 300 years of Christianity many people were martyred but no records were kept. This day All Saints day we commemorate the known and unknown saints.

The church encourages its parishioners to name their children after an Orthodox saint, a significant feast day, or a Christian symbol, such as the cross (Stavros). The patron saint provides the individual a role model and protector for life.

Name Days

Amongst the most joyous occasions within a family are name days. In Greece more emphasis is placed on the name day rather than the birthday. (I guess nobody wants to tell their age). For example on the first of January we celebrate Saint Basil. On that day if the household, has a member name Basil, Bill, Vicky, Vasiliki or William. That person is responsible to have food and drink ready for all those who will be dropping by the house to wish them many years, “Chronia polla”.

Religious Significance

A person’s name day is the feast of a major church event or of the saints to who he or she was named. In most cases the feast is the anniversary of the saint’s death. The death of a saint is evidence that life after death still exist. The saint will continue to do miracles through the intercessions of God even when it’s left earth. It is a common practice on our name day we attend the Divine Liturgies. A church will always hold a service for its patron saint, and you are welcome to attend those services. If a special service is not conducted nearby, attend church on the nearest Sunday to the name day and take communion. Many people also make bread for communion or artoklasia, which are five sweet breads which are commemorated during the service with the names of the families. Then the breads are cut up and handout amongst the church attendance.