Monday, October 21, 2013

Mozart and name days

Another thing I am learning from Paul Johnson's book on Mozart...

(The last one being the mean archbishop ...)

... Mozart would celebrate the name days of his female relatives by writing them pieces of sacred music -- an Ave Maria, a Magnificat, something like that.

Imagine being one of Mozart's relatives! It is your name day and you get an Ave Maria written by Mozart. Probably at the time they saw it as nothing special.

"What did you get for your name day, Sophie?"

"Oh, my husband gave me this great necklace, and this is exciting, my sister gave me a gift certificate to that new restaurant."

"But you must have gotten something else."

"Oh, right, a new Parisian hat! From my other sister."

"What else?"

"Let me think."

(Long pause.)

"You know what, my brother-in-law gave me a cute Salve Regina he wrote."

I want to start celebrating people's name days, you know?

Back when I was a kid and read about Mozart I kept reading about name days and I did not know what they were. Your name day is the feast day for the saint you were named after. That was what you celebrated back then, not your birthday.

My husband Howard's name day would be Oct. 19. Darn, I just missed it! I am going with St. Philip Howard, one of the martyrs of Elizabethan England.

Mozart's name day was Halloween. Oct. 31 is the feast of St. Wolfgang. St. Wolfgang was "one of the three brilliant stars of the 10th century." The Catholic Church, gotta love it!

It also worked so that you were christened the name of the saint whose feast day you were born on. Mozart was born on Jan. 27, the feast day of St. John Chrysostom. Hence his name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Gottlieb (or Amadeus, or Theophilus, depending on what you read, I have never been able to get this straight).

What great traditions, all lost now. They have thrown out all these babies with the bathwater.

Haha ... Looking at the St. Wolfgang link I see someone had commented: "Dear St. Wolfgang, thank you for being the namesake of Mozart."



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