The observation of this tradition has changed throughout the centuries. Before the 20th century, the name day was an important day – even more important than the birthday – as Russian people felt a strong connection with the Orthodox Church. However, when religious observance fell out of favor during Soviet times, the name day tradition became less important. Today, because not every person is named after a saint, and because different saints with the same name may be celebrated throughout the year, name days are not consistently celebrated.
Some Russians do not observe the name day tradition. In the event that the name day tradition is observed, the celebrant may take the saint's name day closest to her birthday. Small gifts of congratulations, such as flowers or chocolates, are given on this occasion.
Learn more about Russian names.