How to Celebrate Your Nameday When Your Name Isn't a Saint's Name (yet)

Between nearly twenty weeks of all-day morning sickness and my failed going to bed early for Lent experiment, I ended up with quite a backlog of mailbag questions. Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing them . . .

I received this one after linking to my post about how we celebrate three special days each year for each kid: their birthday, baptism day, and nameday. Here's that post:

Every Kid is Special (three days per year)



I have a rather odd question for you, but figured after trying to find an answer on the Internet, with your gift of celebrations, seeking your advice might be a better alternative. Or at least, you might have a creative solution. I grew up Catholic, my husband is a convert. We are attempting to bring our faith more into our daily life. I really like the idea of celebrating feast days, etc. in the home and we have begun this practice. I have an actual saint's name for a middle name (intentionally), and my husband actually has a saint's name for his first name, just by coincidence. The problem is that we named our first child Eden. Obviously, after the Garden of Eden. Her middle name is significant to us, but isn't a saint's name either. Our problem is that, obviously, while we gave our daughter a biblical name, it is not a saint's name. And not having a feast day to celebrate is upsetting her. Do you have any suggestions for what liturgical day we might celebrate as her "feast" day? I don't know enough about the liturgical calendar to find any solution, as far as I can see.
Thanks, Ellen


Ellen, what a beautiful and rich name your daughter has. There's no St. Kendra either. Yet. Tell your daughter that just means we have extra motivation to live a canonize-able life!

I have a saint's middle name, so that's what I use as my name day, but for people with no saint name at all there are plenty of perfectly legitimate options.

You can pick something that sounds close. After all, most people who do have a saint's name have it in translation. For your daughter, Venerable Edel Quinn comes to mind. (She has an awesome story.)

Venerable Edel Quinn hasn't been beatified or canonized yet, but we are allowed to venerate her, because it has been established that she lived a holy life. Her death date is May 12, which traditionally becomes the feast day if the person is eventually canonized.

Or you could choose something related to the meaning of her name. Evie and Ashley and Elizabeth and Charlotte have pointed out in the comments that, of course, Catholics honor Adam and Eve as saints. Jesus visited the Limbo of the Fathers on Holy Saturday to bring the souls of the just to Heaven, who had been unable to enter until his sacrifice on the cross. The feast day of Sts. Adam and Eve is celebrated on December 24th, (also a well known Eve).

Also, Mary is the NEW Eve, so your daughter could choose one of the Marian feast days as her special one. There are lots of Marian feast days from which to choose. LOTS. Thirty-two of them, actually. And while a few of them might be a part of your family liturgical year celebrations, like the Annunciation or Our Lady of the Rosary, there are still plenty of days left that probably you're not celebrating.

OR she could choose a patron saint, any saint at all, just one that is special to her, and celebrate that saint's day as her name day. As long as it's just ONE, that's my rule for my kids who have names that are shared by many saints. You don't get ALL the John or all the Elizabeth saint days. Just one.

Hope that helps!


p.s. Blessed Dina Belanger would also probably be quite pleased to become the patron of anyone without a saint's name!

Also filed under Three Special Days, comes this mailbag question . . .


Dear Kendra,

I read your three special days post . . . we have been Catholic for going on 4 years now, and I still haven't got the hang of celebrating feast days like I'd like to. For your children's namedays, what would you recommend for a family where all the children were baptized together (since we converted) and we didn't pick out specific saints at that time? Should we help them pick a saint, or use saints that happen to share their names (if there are any), or . . . ?

Thanks, Kristi



Congratulations and welcome! It sounds like you are currently about 26 years ahead of me in trying to celebrate the feasts, so good job. For namedays my kids use the feast day of a saint that shares their name (just one of them, not ALL the Johns or Elizabeths). If they didn't have a saint name, I'd let them pick one that was close to their name, or that they had a particular devotion to. I think in your situation, I'd make baptism day a family party, like the real day was! Maybe everyone picks one part of the meal (maybe everyone PREPARES one part of the meal!) or maybe you go out to a restaurant together. It really can be anything, the point is just to commemorate it.


You might also enjoy . . .

Baby Steps to Living the Liturgical Year as a Family

Mailbag Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.

p.s. Just a friendly reminder: Easter is an octave, which means eight days of solemnities, which means today is just as much Easter as last Sunday was, which means . . .

Canon 1250 All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

Canon 1251 Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities . . .

So, live it up people. No voluntary penance today. Unfortunately, however, I cannot guarantee a day free from involuntary penance. I'm just a blogger.