Service Project: Celebrating Name Day
Prep time: 1 minute to look up a Name Day calendar (plus any other prep work you want depending on how you choose to celebrate)
Cost: FREE (or more, depending on how you choose to celebrate)
Duration: 1 min (to wish someone a “Happy Name Day”) to overnight (if you choose to make and chill ice cream like we did)
Lesson(s) learned: We can celebrate other people in small but special ways. Also, we can be giving when it’s our turn to celebrate a special day.
How we did it:
Have you heard of Name Days? It’s a tradition in the Czech Republic as well as several other European countries to celebrate a specific name each day. So, in the Czech Republic, on January 15th, all people with the name Alice are celebrated. It’s announced on the radio and printed in the newspaper (as well as numerous places online these days) so everyone knows to celebrate any Alices in their lives on that day. Often families will fix a special meal and invite friends and family to celebrate with them. Children bring treats to their classrooms for everyone. Co-workers come by with well-wishes for the co-worker with the name of the day. Other countries have their own unique calendar and ways of celebrating. Generally it’s not as important as a birthday so it’s more low-key but is universally known (no having to remember their date of birth) so is popular among acquaintances.
Do your kids have trouble when it’s someone else’s birthday? Maybe they get a little jealous of a sibling when they don’t get to be the one opening presents, blowing out candles, or being the center of attention. Name Day is a perfect way to practice celebrating someone else’s special day without all the pressure that comes from a real birthday.
My husband and daughter’s name days happen to be back-to-back so it’s the perfect chance for my daughter to first practice celebrating someone else’s special day and then practice being kind to others on her own special day. This year, their name days also happened to fall less than two weeks after the birth of our second child. So, we kept things very very simple.
The day before Daddy’s name day, Anna and I got the ice cream base ready. Daddy loves ice cream and Anna and I love making it. We made a very simple version that, aside from heating on the hot stove, Anna could do herself. Our recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Ice Cream is at the end of this post.
The morning of Daddy’s name day, I rolled out a big piece of paper over the table and wrote “Happy Name Day” on it then Anna and I colored it. It made for a festive backdrop for the simple festivities we did and provided a chance for Anna and I to talk about how special daddy is while we colored.
Throughout the day we tried to be extra nice to Daddy. For dinner we made him a favorite (simple) meal and had ice cream for dessert. All in all we didn’t do anything fancy but Daddy appreciated the attention and Anna got to practice making someone’s day special.
For Anna’s special day, I wanted it to be special for her but also give her the chance to practice sharing. It happened to fall on the same day of the week as our weekly library visit for storytime so she brought a treat to share with her storytime friends. Normally, this would call for us whipping up a batch of cookies or cupcakes. We love to bake together and I know Anna would have loved it. But, remember that newborn? And recovering mom? And the fact that this storytime adventure would be the first time this mama took both kids out of the house by herself? I knew it would have to be super simple in order to pull off so I grabbed a box of fruit snacks (a favorite of Anna and all toddlers) at the store and called it good. After storytime when the kids were all playing in the library patio, Anna got to pass out fruit snacks.
How is Name Day a service opportunity? It’s a great chance to celebrate someone just because they are who they are. It’s important for our kids to see that everyone is special and should be appreciated for who they are. It would be an especially fun surprise for anyone you know from a country that celebrates Name Days. It might be something they’ve missed since coming to the USA and they might love someone acknowledging their culture. If your kids are old enough, it’s a service opportunity that your kids can take charge of. Give them the basic idea and let them think of ways they can make the day special for someone else.
I hope you’ll give Name Days a try. It’s a fun little tradition. Do you know of other holidays that can become service opportunities?
Now for that yummy ice cream recipe. Simple and so very delicious!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Ice Cream
1 cup sugar
½ cup cocoa
Sprinkle of sea salt
¼ tsp xanthan gum (opt)
1 cup + ¾ cup + 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 ¼ cup whole milk
Splash of vanilla
3 oz. chocolate chips
2 TB peanut butter
Stir the sugar, cocoa, salt, and xanthan gum (if using) in a saucepan until well mixed. Stir in 1 cup cream. Heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring as it heats. Pour into a bowl. Mix in ¾ cup cream, milk, and vanilla. Chill overnight.
About an hour before you plan to make the ice cream, place ¼ cup cream, chocolate chips, and peanut butter in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on 50% power for 30 sec. Stir together. If the chocolate chips don’t quite melt, microwave it for a few more seconds. Place in fridge to cool off, stirring occasionally.
Pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Scoop about a third of the ice cream into a container, level it and dollop on about one third of the peanut butter fudge ripple. Repeat two more times. Freeze for a few hours until hard. Enjoy!