Name-days

Namnsdagar

Namnsdag, an oil painting by Fanny Brate from 1902
Photo from the National Museum in Stockholm

The famous oil painting, Namnsdag, by Fanny Brate (1902), shows preparations for a namnsdag (name-day). The painting is held in the "At Home" collection at the National Museum in Stockholm and reflects an aspect of Swedish culture that was once very important.

Although namnsdagar (name-days) are not as important today as they were, nearly every diary and calendar in Sweden shows a complete list of name-days and every Swede will know their own name-day (if they have one)!

Origin

Years ago many people were given names from the medieval calendar of saints. The day of a saint's death was a feast day and as many people did not know exactly when they were born they would celebrate on name-days rather than birthdays. Indeed, the Swedish Church encouraged the celebration of name-days, since the Church considered the celebration of birthdays to be a pagan custom.

Name-days were particularly important in farming and as most Swedes lived on farms it was common to refer to name-days rather than calendar dates. For instance, Mikael's day (29 September) was the day when farm labourers could change employment. Another example, which is perhaps better known today, was the fact that farm animals were let out to graze for the first time each year on Valborg (May 1st).

Who decides which names to include?

Gradually other names were introduced in addition to the names of the saints. First royal family names were added and then common names. In 1901 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences took on the task of producing an official list. They continue to do so today and revise their list every 15 years. Although their list has no legal status, it is used throughout Sweden. (A complete list of current name-days is given below.)

Celebrating name-days today

These days most children celebrate name-days, but the celebrations are smaller than for birthdays with perhaps just a card and a small present. Adults may get together to fika (to chat over coffee and cake), but many others will not bother to mark their name-day.

January
Januari

Date Names
1 -
2 Svea
3 Alfred, Alfrida
4 Rut
5 Hanna, Hannele
6 Kasper, Melker, Baltsar
7 August, Augusta
8 Erland 
9 Gunnar, Gunder
10 Sigurd, Sigbritt
11 Jan, Jannike
12 Frideborg, Fridolf
13 Knut
14 Felix, Felicia
15 Laura, Lorentz
16 Hjalmar, Helmer
17 Anton, Tony
18 Hilda, Hildur
19 Henrik 
20 Fabian, Sebastian
21 Agnes, Agneta
22 Vincent, Viktor
23 Frej, Freja
24 Erika 
25 Paul, Pål
26 Bodil, Boel 
27 Göte, Göta
28 Karl, Karla
29 Diana
30 Gunilla, Gunhild 
31 Ivar, Joar

 

February
Februari

Date Names
1 Max, Maximilian
2 -
3 Disa, Hjördis
4 Ansgar, Anselm
5 Agata, Agda
6 Dorotea, Doris
7 Rikard, Dick
8 Berta, Bert
9 Fanny, Franciska
10 Iris
11 Yngve, Inge
12 Evelina, Evy
13 Agne, Ove
14 Valentin
15 Sigfrid
16 Julia, Julius
17 Alexandra, Sandra
18 Frida, Fritiof
19 Gabriella, Ella
20 Vivianne
21 Hilding
22 Pia
23 Torsten, Torun
24 Mattias, Mats
25 Sigvard, Sivert
26 Torgny, Torkel
27 Lage
28 Maria
29 -

 

March
Mars

Date Names
1 Albin, Elvira
Ernst, Erna
Gunborg, Gunvor
Adrian, Adriana 
Tora, Tove
Ebba, Ebbe 
Camilla
Siv
Torbjörn, Torleif
10  Edla, Ada
11  Edvin, Egon
12  Viktoria 
13  Greger 
14  Matilda, Maud 
15  Kristoffer, Christel 
16  Herbert, Gilbert 
17  Gertrud 
18  Edvard, Edmund 
19  Josef, Josefina 
20  Joakim, Kim 
21  Bengt 
22  Kennet, Kent 
23  Gerda, Gerd 
24  Gabriel, Rafael 
25 
26  Emanuel 
27  Rudolf, Ralf 
28  Malkolm, Morgan 
29  Jonas, Jens 
30  Holger, Holmfrid 
31  Ester 

 

April
April

Date Names
1 Harald, Hervor
2 Gudmund, Ingemund
3 Ferdinand, Nanna
4 Marianne, Marlene
5 Irene, Irja
6 Vilhelm, William
7 Irma, Irmelin
8 Nadja, Tanja
9 Otto, Ottilia
0 Ingvar, Ingvor
11 Ulf, Ylva
12 Liv
13 Artur, Douglas
14 Tiburtius
15 Olivia, Oliver
16 Patrik, Patricia
17 Elias, Elis
18 Valdemar, Volmar
19 Olaus, Ola
20 Amalia, Amelie
21 Anneli, Annika
22 Allan, Glenn
23 Georg, Göran
24 Vega
25 Markus
26 Teresia, Terese
27 Engelbrekt
28 Ture, Tyra
29 Tyko
30 Mariana

 

May
Maj

Date

Names

1 Valborg
2 Filip, Filippa
3 John, Jane
4 Monika, Mona
5 Gotthard, Erhard
6 Marit, Rita
7 Carina, Carita
8 Åke
9 Reidar, Reidun
10 Esbjörn, Styrbjörn
11 Märta, Märit
12 Charlotta, Lotta
13 Linnea, Linn
14 Halvard, Halvar
15 Sofia, Sonja
16 Ronald, Ronny
17 Rebecka, Ruben
18 Erik
19 Maj, Majken
20 Karolina, Carola
21 Konstantin, Conny
22 Hemming, Henning
23 Desideria, Desirée
24 Ivan, Vanja
25 Urban
26 Vilhelmina, Vilma
27 Beda, Blenda
28 Ingebord, Borghild
29 Yvonne, Jeanette
30 Vera, Veronika
31 Petronella, Pernilla

 

June
Juni

Date Names
1 Gun, Gunnel
2 Rutger, Roger
3 Ingemar, Gudmar
4 Solbritt, Solveig
5 Bo
6 Gustav, Gösta
7 Robert, Robin
8 Eivor, Majvor
9 Börje, Birger
10 Svante, Boris
11 Bertil, Berthold
12 Eskil
13 Aina, Aino
14 Håkan, Hakon
15 Margit, Margot
16 Axel, Axelina
17 Torborg, Torvald
18 Björn, Bjarne
19 Germund, Görel
20 Linda
21 Alf, Alvar
22 Paulina, Paula
23 Adolf, Alice
24 -
25 David, Salomon
26 Rakel, Lea
27 Selma, Fingal
28 Leo
29 Peter, Petra
30 Elof, Leif

 

July
Juli

Date Names
1 Aron, Mirjam
2 Rosa, Rosita
3 Aurora
4 Ulrika, Ulla
5 Laila, Ritva
6 Esaias, Jessika
7 Klas
8 Kjell
9 Jörgen, Örjan
10 André, Andrea
11 Eleonora, Ellinor
12 Herman, Hermine
13 Joel, Judit
14 Folke
15 Ragnhild, Ragnvald
16 Reinhold, Reine
17 Bruno
18 Fredrik, Fritz
19 Sara
20 Margareta, Greta
21 Johanna
22 Magdalena, Madeleine
23 Emma, Emmy
24 Kristina, Kerstin
25 Jakob
26 Jesper, Jasmine
27 Marta
28 Botvid, Seved
29 Olof
30 Algot
31 Helena, Elin

 

August
Augusti 

Date Names
1 Per
2 Karin, Kajsa
3 Tage
4 Arne, Arnold
5 Ulrik, Alrik
6 Alfons, Inez
7 Dennis, Denise
8 Silvia, Sylvia
9 Roland
10 Lars
11 Susanna
12 Klara
13 Kaj
14 Uno
15 Stella, Estelle
16 Brynolf
17 Verner, Valter
18 Ellen, Lena
19 Magnus, Måns
20 Bernhard, Bernt
21 Jon, Jonna
22 Henrietta, Henrika
23 Signe, Signhild
24 Bartolomeus
25 Lovisa, Louise
26 Östen
27 Rolf, Raoul
28 Fatima, Leila
29 Hans, Hampus
30 Albert, Albertina
31 Arvid, Vidar

 

September
September

Date Names
1 Samuel, Sam
2 Justus, Justina
3 Afhild, Alva
4 Gisela
5 Adela, Heidi
6 Lilian, Lilly
7 Kevin, Roy
8 Alma, Hulda
9 Anita, Annette
10 Tord, Turid
11 Dagny, Helny
12 Åsa, Åslög
13 Sture
14 Ida
15 Sigrid, Siri
16 Dag, Daga
17 Hildegard, Magnhild
18 Orvar
19 Fredrika
20 Elise, Lisa
21 Matteus
22 Maurits, Moritz
23 Tekla, Tea
24 Gerhard, Gert
25 Tryggve
26 Enar, Einar
27 Dagmar, Rigmor
28 Lennart, Leonard
29 Mikael, Mikaela
30 Helge

 

October
Oktober

Date Name
1 Ragnar, Ragna
2 Ludvig, Love
3 Evald, Osvald
4 Frans, Frank
5 Bror
6 Jenny, Jennifer
7 Birgitta, Britta
8 Nils
9 Ingrid, Inger
10 Harry, Harriet
11 Erling, Jarl
12 Valfrid, Manfred
13 Berit, Birgit
14 Stellan
15 Hedvig, Hillevi
16 Finn
17 Antonia, Toini
18 Lukas
19 Tore, Tor
20 Sibylla
21 Ursula, Yrsa
22 Marika, Marita
23 Severin, Sören
24 Evert, Eilert
25 Inga, Ingalill
26 Amanda, Rasmus
27 Sabina
28 Simon, Simone
29 Viola
30 Elsa, Isabella
31 Edit, Edgar

 

November
November

Date Names
1 -
2 Tobias
3 Hubert, Hugo
4 Sverker
5 Eugen, Eugenia
6 Gustav Adolf
7 Ingegerd, Ingela
8 Vendela
9 Teodor, Teodora
10 Martin, Martina
11 Mårten
12 Konrad, Kurt
13 Kristian, Krister
14 Emil, Emilia
15 Leopold
16 Vibeke, Viveka
17 Naemi, Naima
18 Lillemor, Moa
19 Elisabet, Lisbet
20 Pontus, Marina
21 Helga, Olga
22 Cecilia, Sissela
23 Klemens
24 Gudrun, Rune
25 Katrina, Katja
26 Linus
27 Astrid, Asta
28 Malte
29 Sune
30 Andreas, Anders

 

December
December

Date Name
1 Oskar, Ossian
2 Beata, Beatrice
3 Lydia
4 Barbara, Barbro
5 Sven
6 Nikolaus, Niklas
7 Angela, Angelika
8 Virginia
9 Anna
10 Malin, Malena
11 Daniel, Daniela
12 Alexander, Alexis
13 Lucia
14 Sten, Sixten
15 Gottfrid
16 Assar
17 Stig
18 Abraham
19 Isak
20 Israel, Moses
21 Tomas
22 Natanael, Jonatan
23 Adam
24 Eva
25 -
26 Stefan, Staffan
27 Johannes, Johan
28 Benjamin
29 Natalia, Natalie
30 Abel, Set
31 Sylvester

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