Happy Name Day Michali !!!

November 8th is the Name Day for Saint Michael in the Greek Orthodox church, and as the Greeks have a paucity of saints called Patrick, the tradition is that Paddy celebrates his name day using his second name Michael. The name day is considered to be more important that the birthday, and is marked by parties and gifts. So, with today being the 8th November we wish Paddy all the best. I hear that he is well so I hope that he is able to join in with all the celebrations, but perhaps they will be a little muted from previous years.

Some of you may recall that the New Zealand writer Maggie Rainey-Smith happened to be in Kardamili a few years ago and somehow ended up at Paddy’s house and was able to join in the party.

Patrick Leigh Fermor in 2005 - Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

“By 10.30am the service in his private chapel was over and we were seated in his lounge – books lining the walls from floor to ceiling: Nancy Mitford, Henry James, James Joyce – eating olives, meatballs, feta and drinking local wine.

On a person’s Name Day you are required to take a gift, and all I had with me was a copy of my first novel About Turns, which I gave to Paddy. He signed my copy of his own book with a personal inscription and a small drawing. We talked about Crete and my dad and his book on the Mani. I gushed, he charmed.

Then the singing began and Paddy was surrounded by adoring local women who toasted him with traditional Name Day songs.

At the end of the singing, Paddy stood and pretended to fire a pistol into the air (an old tradition where real pistols were once used). He is of English and Irish descent. Although his name is Patrick, his Greek Name Day is the day of Michali. Michael is the name he assumed while fighting for the Greek resistance.”

You can read Maggie’s complete article about her visit here.

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