What is Onomastico?
For many Italians, celebrating one’s onomastico is just as special as celebrating one’s birthday, and for some it is even more special. Onomastico means “name-day” in Italian, and in Italy there is a custom where Catholics named after a saint will celebrate their onomastico on the same day as that saint’s feast day.
For example, my first name is Anthony, and just two days ago, on June 13, I celebrated my Onomastico because on June 13, Saint Anthony’s feast-day is celebrated. Similar to birthdays, I received messages from my Italian friends stating, “Buon Onomastico!” It is also customary to receive small gifts on your onomastico.
As an Italian Enthusiast, I celebrated the day more for its custom in Italian culture rather than for its religious significance. However, in preparation for this post, I did ask some Italian friends about their experiences and practices. Generally speaking, I found the following trends:
- Onomastico is celebrated more in southern Italy, as many northern Italians do not even consider their onomastico as having significance, religious or otherwise.
- Onomastico is celebrated more in religious families, due to its Christian origins; and
- Onomastico is an old tradition that was practiced with greater significance in prior generations.
Nevertheless, celebrating your onomastico is fun, as it is another Italian excuse to congregate with loved ones and drink wine, and eat cake and pastarelle. It is also interesting to learn about the saint that shares your name. To find your onomastico as recognized in Italy, you can click here for a list per the Roman calendar: List of Saint Days
If anyone has personal experience with onomastico customs and practices, please contribute in the comment section.
July 27, 2018
May 05, 2018