We’ve been celebrating the children’s name days for the past 3 or 4 years, a tradition we’ve all come to cherish. As we gather together for these observances, we are strengthening our family bonds and the Catholic identity of our family. By giving attention to our child’s name saint, we not only teach them a thing or two about a great soul, but we also show them the delight and joy of our Faith.
We usually have a simple tea with some elements related to the saint, but this year I’m trying to bring something new to the table because all the children have name days in August! They are tired of teas by the time Aidan’s name day rolls around at the end of the month. (“Pleeeease, no more scones!!”) Lydia’s name day was this past Saturday (August 3) and we had a pancake breakfast set out on a purple cloth (St. Lydia was a “seller of purple”).
August 8th is the Feast of St. Dominic, our Dominic’s name day. Dominic is, of course, the founder of the Dominican Order, the great teaching order of the Church. A few interesting things about St. Dominic that can help us think of creative ways to observe his feast day:
- He is credited with spreading the practice of praying the Rosary.
- He was known to travel widely preaching the Good News, but also with great humility, often traveling barefoot.
- He is the patron saint of astronomers (because of the legend that a star settled on his brow when he was baptized).
- He is associated with the orange tree, because he is said to have planted the first orange tree at Santa Sabine, where an orange tree still grows which descend from Dominic’s tree!
Knowing these tidbits, we can imagine many ways to create a special celebration honoring this saint: How about making freshly squeezed orange juice together after morning Mass, planning a stargazing outing, or making homemade rosaries to be delivered to the needy?
In My Home
Let me say right off the bat that kids will be happy with lighting a candle, doing a coloring page, eating cookies, and hearing a few stories! My kids love receiving prayer cards of their name saint, like the one on top of Dominic’s cake to the left. A friend of mine sneaks out early in the morning and has donut holes waiting on the table on her children’s name days. Observing name days doesn’t have to be extravagant. I will try to keep things simple, but I do have some things in mind about St. Dominic’s Feast Day.
I want my children to grasp a bit of Dominic’s heart — his commitment to walking among ordinary people spreading the love of God, his belief in the importance of education and intellectual preparation for the living of a spiritually vibrant life, and his of course his extraordinary humility and willingness to sacrifice everything and anything to follow God.
Books: Story time with my children is a treasured way to collect their hearts. I’ll read aloud to the children about Dominic from our Loyola Book of Saints. We also have the chapter book Saint Dominic and the Rosary published by Ignatius Press. This book would be a great read aloud for the family or quiet reading for an older child. For younger kids, A Child’s Guide to the Rosary is lovely.
Activities: My kids love crafting so if I can get our supplies before Thursday we’ll give Rosary crafting a go! You can get all the bits you need at the craft store and by finding parts at your Catholic book store, but you can also purchase complete kits like these and these. I think one like this one would be easy to make with pretty beads purchased at the craft store:
We will also take the kids stargazing if the weather cooperates. Last year we enjoyed a meteor shower a few days after Dominic’s Feast Day, which was a spectacular way to celebrate! This is the Perseid Shower, which always peaks in mid-August.