Once a year, every year, you probably celebrate surviving one more trip around the sun on this wild carousel horse we call Earth. By no means is it a simple feat. Not only is this small blue rock hurtling around the sun at 30 kilometers per second, but we also have to share this limited space with such menacing perils as box jellyfish, Ebola, and American gun laws. It's a miracle any of us get past 6, but for all our efforts towards the goal of not dying, we get one day a year to celebrate our continued existence, our birthday.
And who doesn't love birthdays? Calories don't count, you get free cake, and you can finally weigh your personal worth in Facebook notifications and feel good about it. Practically the only downside of birthdays (besides the reminder of our brief mortality) is the fact that there are 364 days a year that aren't your birthday.
Luckily Sweden has at least one solution for one these 364 problems, the Swedish Name Day.
Name Days began hundreds of years ago as Saint's Days, where a different Christian Saint is celebrated for every day of the calendar year. In Sweden and Finland, people with the same name as the Saint would celebrate particular furiously, leading to the Name Day tradition. Unfortunately some people weren't named after a Saint, so 300 years ago Sweden began arbitrarily adding names to the calendar to make everybody feel better, which is great for me, since the closest thing to Saint Rory is Saint Wilibrord.
Granted, there are only one or two names a day, and out of the six-hundred or so names, many are very, very Swedish, such as Nyĺrsdagen, Bror, and Juldagen. Here's a fun fact! If you are born on December 25th, and are named Juldagen, your parents either hate you or are looking to save some money, because your Birthday, Name Day, and Christmas all land on the same day! Actually, Swedes celebrate Christmas on December 24th anyways, because this place is weird.
I know what your thinking. "But what if I don't name my child a super popular name like Bror or Juldagen?" Well, in a lot of cases, you can't. The Swedish Naming Law was enacted in 1982 to ensure that commoners couldn't change their names to that of noble-family lineage, but was later expanded to include any names that could "cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name." Every new parent must submit their child's name to the Swedish Tax Authority within the first three months of birth to either be accepted or rejected.
Some examples of rejected Swedish names:
Metallica (later allowed)
Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (pronounced Albin)
So sorry Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, no Name Day for you, but I have the feeling you're going to have bigger problems than that. But altogether there are only 600 or so names officially recognized as Swedish Name Days, but unofficially, there are a whole lot more.
According to this Swedish website, there are currently 93 people named Rory in Sweden (94 now!), but we get our Name Day on October 30th. I think it would be great for all 94 Rory's to come together in Stockholm for a big Rory Party, because when you put Rory into a Facebook search, the results look like the official catalog of non-threatening, awkward, white guys. My People!
Also, you can celebrate your Name Day however you like, because very few Name Day rules are written in stone. Name Day Laser Tag? Sure! Name Day Spa Treatment? Of course! Name Day 12 hours of video games in your bathrobe? Sounds like a Rory Name Day to me! At the end of the day, it's the perfect Swedish excuse to Treat Yo Self.
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