The birthday holiday is one of the most significant and beautiful. Close people (relatives, friends) congratulate the hero of the occasion, present him with gifts, address them with kind words and wishes. But not everyone knows that earlier such a holiday had a completely different name - "name day".
In accordance with Christian canons, a newborn baby was named after a saint mentioned in the so-called saints - lists of persons canonized by the Orthodox Church. As a rule, the child was given the name of the saint whose commemoration day coincided with the date of his birth. If the parents of the child did not know exactly on what day he was born (which was a common occurrence with the illiteracy of most of the people), the saint was chosen from the list that most corresponded to the probable date. This is how the tradition was born to celebrate the day of the memory of the saint, whose name the newborn was named after. She got the name "name day".
Each Orthodox family celebrated the holiday in its own way, to the best of its ability. But there were also some general rules that they tried to adhere to. On the eve of the name day, pastries were prepared in the house of the hero of the occasion: pies, a loaf. By the way, since that time, a song has appeared: “As for (name) name day we baked a loaf, of this height, of such width …” Pies, according to custom, were carried home to relatives and friends. The larger the cake, the more respect was given to this person. The godmother and father were supposed to send large pies with sweet filling. True, in some localities, instead of pies, buns were baked, decorated with raisins on top.
The cake presented as a gift meant an invitation to a name day. According to custom, the one who brought the pies had to additionally say the phrase: "The birthday boy ordered to bow to the pies and asked to eat bread."
All those invited in the evening gathered at the birthday man's house, where a feast with songs and dances was arranged. The food could be different, depending on the capabilities and culinary abilities of each particular family. But it was supposed “not to lose face” and to treat people to glory. The decoration of the table was a large pie with some filling, decorated with raisins (many years later it became a rule to serve a cake instead). In the midst of the celebration, this cake was raised above the birthday man's head and broken so that the filling would fall on it. And the guests shouted in unison: "So that silver and gold would fall on you in the same way!"
The name-days of the tsar or tsarina were celebrated most magnificently in Russia, which were elevated to the rank of public holidays ("the day of the namesake"). After the October Revolution of 1917, a fierce struggle against religious prejudice began. And the name day gradually turned into a birthday celebration.