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 celebrated his name day using his second name Michael. The name day is considered to be more important than the birthday, and is marked by parties and gifts.
Some of you may recall that the New Zealand writer Maggie Rainey-Smith happened to be in Kardamili in 2007 and somehow ended up at Paddy’s house and was able to join in the party.
“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.”
Maggie also took some video footage of local women singing to Paddy who does look pleased! (click image to play)
My sincere thanks to Maggie for letting us see this again.
You can read Maggie’s complete original article about her visit reproduced on the blog here.