Since the last time you read from #MyPOVSorrento, I’ve turned 20 in one of the most beautiful places on Earth!
My birthday is on September 5, and before coming here I was not sure what to expect regarding how I might celebrate or if I would even have anyone to celebrate with.
I made it a goal to learn a bit more about how birthdays are celebrated here in Italy, and incorporated my own traditions into the day as well.
Embracing Italian Culture: Celebrating "Onomastico"
The day before my birthday I got some insight from the lovely staff at Sant’Anna on what birthdays are really like here in Italy, as well as I did some research of my own.
Celebrating your onomastico (name day in English) is a major deal here in Italy, mostly with older generations but it is still very prevalent.
Your name day depends on what Saint you were named after, and each Saint has a day they are celebrated on.
It is even common for individuals to celebrate their name day, and not so much of their birthday.
There are websites where you can find out what Saint your name is derived from, and also find out the days for other names;
a lot of Italians can recall common Saint names and days off off the top of their head!
Exploring Saints and Traditions: The Megan Story
I was extremely intrigued by this and wanted to find out what Saint the name Megan might be derived from.
I found out that Megan is an English name, derived from the latin name Margarita.
It came from the Greek word margaritari (μαργαριτάρι), meaning pearl, which was borrowed from the Persians.
Not only, the flower “daisy” is called margarita in Spanish and other languages; in Italian translates to “Margherita“.
After finding this out, I searched for Saint Margherita and found the history of Saint Margaret of Cortona.
Her feast day is February 22, and since I will not be in Italy for this day, I figured the least I could do is keep Saint Margaret in my thoughts and respect the Italian tradition of recognizing the Saint you are named after.
From Tradition to Gratitude
On the day of my birthday, I started my day off with one of my own traditions: writing a letter to my next year self and reading the one I wrote the previous year.
Even though I am in a new country and making new lifelong memories, I wanted to keep that tradition constant.
Like I said before, I wasn’t sure how my birthday was going to go since I am in Sorrento now and not surrounded by everything I’m used to at home.
I took a walk along the Marina Grande and eventually wandered the side streets of the town, people watching and journaling my thoughts.
I wanted to really consider what got me here to Italy and how big of an experience this is in my life, one that I am so grateful for. It was a day full of reflection, feeling grateful, and some school work!
Sorrento's Magic: An Unforgettable Birthday Celebration
In the evening I was surrounded by new friends, though it feels like I’ve known them forever.
They even made me a homemade chocolate birthday cake and wrote me cards.
I was overwhelmed with gratitude and could not believe I had found such amazing people after only being here for roughly a week.
For dinner we went to Ristorante “Sedil Dominova” and I got the delicious Gnocchi alla Sorrentina.
For our second round of dessert, because cake wasn’t enough, we went to “Raki,” what we have now claimed as our current favorite gelato spot.
I originally thought I’d just spend my birthday alone and missing home, but after being here, I think that is impossible to do in this great of a place.
Sorrento is magical, and the people are too!
I’d say it was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had and I wish I could spend it here every year, I know I’ll definitely have to come back in February to celebrate Saint Margaret though!