In some Polish families, given names are reused, with children being named for other relatives. Not so in mine. In fact, the only times that names were deliberately reused was when a child died at a young age and the same name was used for another child born to the same parents.
With my earliest known Niedziałkowski ancestors, children were given the names of saints whose feast days were celebrated at about the time of the children’s births. The feast day of the saint for whom a child was named became his or her Name Day, or Imieniny.
My 6th great grandparents, Krzysztof Niedziałkowski and Kostancja Żaboklicka, named their children as follows:
- Barbara, baptized 31 Dec 1713, name day 04 Dec
- Ignace, baptized 13 Feb 1718, name day 01 Feb
- Kazimierz, born 27 Feb 1722, name day 04 Mar
- Marianna, baptized 14 Aug 1725, name day 15 Aug
- Klara, baptized 15 Aug 1727, name day 12 Aug
- Katarzyna, baptized 08 May 1729, name day 30 Apr
- Szymon, baptized 14 Oct 1731, name day 28 Oct
- Katarzyna, baptized 21 Mar 1734, name day 22 Mar
The name days usually were not the same as the date of birth or baptism, but were fairly close to those dates. Later generations did not seem to hold so closely to choosing a given name based on a name day that was close to the date of birth.
In general, my ancestors gave their children only one name, a common practice in Poland. Some children, however, received two names:
- Martina Anna Niedziałkowska (daughter of Ignace Niedziałkowski and Zofia Szamińska)
- Faustina Apolonia Obidzieńska (daughter of Józef Obidzieński and Katarzyna Niedziałkowska)
- Jan Wojciech Niedziałkowski (son of Tomasz Niedziałkowski and Cecylia Chotkowska)
Faustina Apolonia Obidzieńska, my first cousin six times removed, was given a name that I find particularly interesting. She was baptized on 28 Feb 1762, and her name days are 15 Feb (Faustina) and 09 Feb (Apolonia). I don’t know anything about the Saint Faustina for whom she was named, but it was surely not the well-known Saint Faustina who lived in the 20th century. Saint Apolonia was a martyr for the faith whose teeth were knocked out by anti-Christian persecutors. She died in the year 249 and is the patron saint of dentists.
Written for the Carnival of Eastern European Genealogy.
Copyright © 2008 by Stephen J. Danko