The Italians often name their little bambinos for saints or for the saint on whose feast day they were born, but sometimes for a connection to a patron saint of the town in which they live, or a special fondness the parents may have for a particular saint.
Today, if I lived in Italy, I would be celebrating my Onomastico much like a birthday - perhaps with cake, Asti Spumante, or even a small gift. But, of course, I do not live in Italy. My great grandparents came from the Southern region of Calabria around 1915, and my grandma was their first daughter to be born in America. As with the many of the turn-of-the-century immigrants, they put forth their best efforts to become American. In doing so, much of the family tradition was lost - including the celebration of Onomastico.
For me there will be no St. Patrick's Day parade, heavy drinking, or wearing green. Nor will I be cooking my traditional corned beef and cabbage this year since my kitchen floor is being grouted. But, thanks to my family in Crotone I now know my name day is March 17th and so I think they wish me Nome giorno felice.
It's been interesting learning the traditions of my Italian heritage. What I am most learning, is that in Italy they celebrate often while here in America - not so much.