Tomorrow is August 15th. That’s about the most important day on the calendar in Greece. For the pagans amongst you, the Assumption of the Virgin Maria is celebrated on that day. In Greece, that’s bigger than Christmas or even Easter. It’s also the name-day of all those named after Maria. That includes those called Maria, strangely enough, and Despina, but only if they are married. The unfortunate girls not married yet, supposedly still virgins, have their name-day celebrated later in the year, the poor things. Some past influence of the Orthodox church no doubt. But the festivities are not limited to females. And the church or the traditions are less discriminating for men because, virgins or not, all those named Mario, Panos, or Panagiotis can and will party that day.
By the way, Panagiótis is a common Greek name, derived from Panagía, which is another name for “Maria”. Panos is just an abreviation of Panagiótis, of course. I’m not sure how Despina got mixed in with this bunch, but there is no doubt a plausible explanation, which I will find sooner or later.
In the life of a Greek, the name-day is a much more important event than the birth-day. It is celebrated big time! Gifts are given, festive meals and desserts are prepared, and special preparations are made for an open house. What with a quarter of the population named after Maria, the other quarter married to them, and the remaining half related to those named after Maria, it’s no use trying to get any serious work done that day. So, most businesses are closed, the exception being those catering directly for the tourists. Which means that Yvonne will have to work, while I get to party. Not much fun in that though.