Today is Györgyi’s name day. Name days are pretty big deals here in Hungary, as in the rest of Europe and Latin America. They rival birthday importance, and usually more people know it’s your name day than your birthday because a name is on every day on almost every calendar. So you always know whom to celebrate. The tradition originated with the celebration of Catholic saints. On some days the orthodox tradition still exists where specific saint’s feast days are celebrated, but mostly it’s just for individuals.
I thought I would take this opportunity to publicly celebrate Györgyi, whose name probably most westerners cannot pronounce. DYUUR-dyee. That’s how the phonetic book suggests saying it, but it’s not really correct either. But since it’s the Hungarian feminine form of Gyorgy, which in English is George of course, most Americans just call her Georgie. Though if she showed up to Ellis Island a century ago, her name probably would have been changed to Georgia.
Regardless of spellings and pronunciations, to many people, naming is such an important artifact of identity. It certainly applies in this case. Originally Greek, from the name Γεωργιος (Georgios), which itself was a derivation from the word γεωργος (georgos) meaning “farmer, earthworker”, which again was another derivation from the elements γη (ge) “earth” and εργον (ergon) “work”.
Whether her mother knew it or not, this name is absolutely fitting to Györgyi. Probably one of the most kind, generous people I know, she is also a relentlessly and tirelessly hard worker. I’ve always been drawn to people and things that seem close to earth. Not like in the braiding the hair of moss trees kind of way, but in people who seem tuned into things that, in this often hard and cynical word, are so easy to forget—like kindness, love, honesty and humor. I’ve been very fortunate to know good and true people in my life, and I honestly wink at the stars for my fortune this year in meeting, by far, the best.
Boldog Névnapot Györgyi!