You have probably heard that there are more than three hundred holidays in Russia, although not all of them are regarded as off-days or public holiday. But, it is always interesting to see how in the country almost everything is respected with remembrance and its own special day. One of the holidays in Russia is called Angel Day. Here are 4 things you should know about it.
1. It is another name for Name Day
Name day is the day of remembrance of the saint whose name was given to an Orthodox Christian at baptism. Angel Day is, in many cases, a different name for the name day, although they may also be called the day of baptism, which may or may not coincide with the day of remembrance of the holy saint.
If a person was baptized in childhood and grew up in the Orthodox community, then from childhood he also knows the day of his name day. But it often happens that people who were baptized in childhood lived a conscious life outside the Church and do not even know what saint they were named after. In addition, saints with the same name are found more than once in the church calendar. So saints with the name Alexander meets about thirty, John – more than eighty; in addition, one saint may have several days of remembrance.
2. The date of Angel Day is different for every person
To determine the name day, the following practice has developed in the Church: if on the church calendar there are several days of memory of saints, namesake with a person (namesake – with the same name), then their Angel Day will be the closest of these days after their birthday forward to the calendar.
If a saint celebrates several days of remembrance during the year, the next day after a person with the saint’s name’s birthday is the day of their name day, the rest of the days of the saint’s memory are called small name days. These rules are advisory, but not required. At will, everyone can choose any saint’s name to be their patron and celebrate their Ange Day on the day of the saint’s memory. If the child is named with a non-Orthodox name, then at baptism, a consonant Orthodox name is usually chosen and their Angel Days are determined by the Orthodox name.
3. Angel Day follows the Orthodox calendar, not Julian
The name of the saint whose memory follows someone’s birthday is determined by the Orthodox calendar. As a rule, a name day is the day after the day of remembrance of the saint whose name the Christian bears. For example, Anna, who was born on November 20, will have Angel Day on December 3 — the day after her birthday, on the memorial of St. Anna, and her saint will be St. Anna Persian.
There is a fact that should be remembered about this nuance; in 2000, the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia were glorified at the Council of Bishops: if someone was baptized before 2000, then their saint is selected from the saints glorified before 2000. For example, if the person’s name is Catherine, and she was baptized before the glorification of the new martyrs, then her saint is St. Great Martyr Catherine, if she was baptized after the Council, she can choose St. Catherine whose memory date is closer to her birthday.
If the name that someone is called is not in the holy calendar, then at baptism, the name that is closest in sound is chosen. For example, Dina – Evdokia, Lily – Leah, Angelica – Angelina, Joan – John, Milan – Militsa. According to tradition, Alice receives the name of Alexandra in baptism, in honor of St. the martyr of Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova, before the adoption of Orthodoxy, bearing the name Alice. Some names in the church tradition have a different sound, for example, Svetlana is Photinia (from the Greek photos – light), and Victoria – Nika, both names in Latin and Greek mean “victory”.
4. The celebration of Angel Day should not be done on a fasting day
On the day of the Angel, the Orthodox tries to confess and partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. If the day of the Angel falls on a fasting day or when they observe fasting, then the celebration and feasts are usually transferred to non-fasting days. On non-fasting days, many of them call guests to share the bright joy of the holiday with relatives and friends.
Angel Days should not be celebrated only with a friendly feast. Orthodox people in the days of their saints visit the temple and, having prepared in advance, confess and partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
On the day when the Angel Day arrives, a festive meal is made at home among loved ones. It should be remembered that if the name day falls on a fasting day, then the festive treat could be moved to the other day. On Lent, name days that happened on a weekday are transferred to the next Saturday or Sunday, or, generally, to the Bright Week.
The Orthodox Christians believe that what is more than the festivity of the day is the visit to the church. In prayers to the saints, they ask their saints first of all for spiritual help as well as bodily health, family well-being, and material wealth. They ask God to fulfill their prayer if it is not manifestly sinful, but the saints cannot do the human desires and speculations by the will of God.
For people outside of the community of Orthodox Church, this holiday may sound a bit complicated because it is considered a very religious day and can only be wholly understood by the people who are involved in the celebration. However, hopefully the 4 things you should know about the Angel Day above help to explain the holiday to you.