Today is my name-day, St. Nicholas, so Xrònia Pollà (happy name-day in Greek) to me and to all the Nicholas, Nicole, Nikos, Nicoletta out there!
Looking up for Saint Nicholas on wikipedia, it comes out that he is an interesting one as he is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, prostitutes, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students. I believe my inner child would make me part of the children one.
I have always celebrated my name-day, even when I was living in Italy, as my family is from the south where it’s still quite a strong tradition. But, since I live in Greece, it has become a second birthday and I love to receive phone calls and wishes from my Greek friends and family. And if you want to add a gift, go for it!
Currently, I am in Italy for the Christmas holidays and I am experiencing a stressful condition related to my name. It’s the same disturbing status that affects me when I am in Greece.
For more than thirty years my (full) name has been Nicoletta: in Italy, very few people call me ‘Niki’, sometimes for fun ‘Nikita’, but most of my friends and family call me ‘Nico’.
So I have been ‘Nico’ for a lot of years.
‘Nico, how are you?’
‘Nico, could you please pass me the bottle?’
‘Nico, would you like a coffee?’
And so on…
Since I moved to Greece, I had expected to change my lifestyle, my everyday language, friends, car, …
But to be honest I did not think about my name: Nicoletta is also a quite popular Greek name so I felt safe with it. I was not!
The first time I found my self in a cafè and heard the barman asking ‘Nico, which coffee would you like?’ I replied I had asked for a tea not for a coffee. I saw his face puzzled but I thought ‘Whatever!’.
Whenever I heard someone saying ‘Ela Niko!’, I would kindly reply ‘Hello’, even if I did not know the person but again that foggy look.
Day after day, Niko after Niko, I understand there was something wrong but did not really get what exactly. Since when someone told me ‘Well, you don’t really look like a Niko or are you hiding something?’ with a naughty look.
That’s when I understood, in Greece ‘Niko’ is only for men!
At the same time, a lot of Greek friends started calling me Nikol and I thought it was just a cute way to say my name. What a difference can make an ‘L’!
So imagine, you have been called ‘Niko’ for your whole life as nobody could bother calling you ‘Nicoletta’ (too long) and now, suddenly, forget about it and get used to Nikol.
Actually I had to get used to Nikol, Nikoletitsa and Nikoletaki!
At the beginning it was weird but day after day, month after month and year after year, here I am, the same person with new names.
Still, I react when I hear ‘Niko’ but now I try to count to ten before saying something.
I have also instructed some of my closest friends to call me ‘Niko’, they love calling me so as they find it funny!
It’s quite hilarious when this happens in public situation as I can still see that people look at me or my friends in an awkward way when they hear them calling me ‘Niko’.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet”
Yes, Juliet, you were right, but what an effort adjusting to a new name every time I change country!
Right now I am ‘Niko’ and in few weeks back to ‘Nikol’, what a mess!