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Please explain

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:44 pm
by Sinkingslowly
Let me just start by saying that this not a complaint about Greek bureaucracy :D .
I fully understand that different places have different systems and I'm just going with the flow.

But please, please could someone explain to me the Greek obsession with my mother and father?

I have all the ID that anyone could ever want, I can prove that I am who I'm claiming to be.
My parents are not standing guarantor on anything because unless the Greek government employ certified mediums it would be a bit difficult.
Yet everywhere wants my father's and mother's names on every piece of paper that I'm signing.

There must be a reason, I just can't see it.

Re: Please explain

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:11 pm
by altohb
I think the really simple reason is that (as you will discover) many, many people here have the same name - not only first name, but surname as well. It is similar, therefore, to saying ie "Jones the butcher" or "Jones the mechanic". Here it is ......"Manolis the son of Yiorgos X and Maria Y" rather than "Manolis the son of Yiorgos Y and Maria X"! It is just to identify people. For foreigners, of course, it seems weird. When we came here I found myself having to quote my maiden name after 25 years of marriage (and using my husband's name), and have recently had to do so again as part of the land registry process (forget this unless you are in Lasithi province), as our contracts have my maiden name but all other stuff is in my married name.

Hope that helps! :)

Re: Please explain

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:30 pm
by moggieman
You should try explaining my father's name is the same as mine. That does not compute into Greek logic.

Re: Please explain

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:33 pm
by Carolina
Yes, exactly as altonb says, due to family names being passed on.

I am married to a Greek and so a real life example is that my son, my nephew and my father in law all have the same name - both first name and surname. They are distingished only by their father's and mother's names (my son and his cousin of the same name even share a date of birth!).

It happens for the women too - e.g. my Greek niece, her grandmother and her aunt all have the same name.

Re: Please explain

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:49 pm
by Clio
It's not just for official documents but for practical everyday use. Traditionally the first male child is named after the father's father. One of our village patriarchs was called, let us say. Pandelis Lionakis. Five of his eight children were boys, and each of those subsequently produced a son, all within a few years of each other. So in our quite small village we have five Pandelis Lionakises in their 30s, plus their grandfather when he was still alive. And if I want to pass on a piece of gossip about one of them, I have to refer to "Pandelis tou Ianni" in order to identify the subject.

Re: Please explain

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:12 am
by Kilkis
Normal naming practise is:

    1 First born son named after his paternal grandfather
    2 Second born son named after his maternal grandfather
    3 First born daughter named after her paternal grandmother
    4 Second born daughter named after her maternal grandmother

When you add to this the fact that it would be quite common for the whole family to live in the same apartment block you have a recipe for confusion. Where I lived in Kilkis there was a three storey apartment opposite me occupied by the offspring of three brothers. There were three Vangelis all with the same surname living in it. Their fathers were brothers so they all had the paternal grandfather's name. Their father's all had different names so they could be identified as Vangelis tou Theodorou, Vangelis tou Pavlou and Vangelis tou Georgou.

With wives I think the convention has changed over time. Typically before they were married they would add their father's name but after marriage their husband's name. So Maria daughter of Yannis would be Maria tou Yanni. If she then married Stephanos she would become Maria tou Stephanou. I think originally wives changed their surnames to that of their husbands but later they kept their own surnames but I am not sure about this. I have also seen official documents addressed to a married woman using her maiden name followed her husband's surname, obviously with the ending changed to match the gender. For feminists it is worth noting that the genitive case is being used so the name implies possession, i.e. Maria of the Yannis and then Maria of the Stephanos.

Probably it is easiest just to think about it as if you are supplying information to a database, the database is Greek and so is designed around Greek necessities and you have to supply information to fill all the fields. Those fields might not be relevant to you but something has to go in them.


Re: Please explain

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:44 am
by Sinkingslowly
I knew a little about the naming tradition but not in so much detail.
I suppose it makes sense in everyday usage to include the parents name if there's any chance of confusion. It probably happens everywhere, I've heard it used in UK along the lines of "young Jim, Bill's oldest".
I guess in official documents it's just a hold over from former times as I expect everyone now has an official unique identity.
There are certainly enough official numbers attached to everybody :D .

Just as an aside, how does the Greek system manage if the child is born out of wedlock and the father's name is not known?

Re: Please explain

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:20 pm
by Carolina
Sinkingslowly wrote:
Just as an aside, how does the Greek system manage if the child is born out of wedlock and the father's name is not known?

I guess it would just be άγνωστος (unknown) and I expect that in itself is pretty unique in Greece.

Re: Please explain

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 3:16 pm
by Jeffstclair
Yeah I took a bit of getting used to ,having to use my Mother and Fathers names on documents when I first lived here .They both died when I was in my teens, almost fifty years ago...Now it brings a smile when I read their names on official papers ...and I wonder if they would like this place ...

Re: Please explain

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:02 pm
by Kookla
Yep, makes me smile too. In Scotland children were given a mother’s maiden name for their middle name. My father’s middle name was Bishop. Always causes genuflecting and hilarity when going through the process of paperwork especially at the olive factory.

Re: Please explain

Posted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:27 pm
by john4d
Well this thread has brought back memories. Firstly the main theme, of naming children after grandparents. This used to be the practice in England.
Some years ago, whilst researching my wife's ancestors in Cumbria, we discovered a series of William, John, William, John relationships. We were okay until we got to 1790 when William had a son who he christened John. The book the baptism was written in simply said "John, son of William Gradwell". There was no mention of the mother's name at all, and as there were several William Gradwell's in the location all married to different named women, we had no idea who John Gradwell's mother was and therefore no idea which William Gradwell was involved. That brought us to the end of that line of enquiry.

On the question of the mother's maiden name being incorporated as a middle name for a child we also had a problem with Elizabeth Calvert Irving, daughter of Richard Irving. We assumed that Calvert was the mothers maiden name which caused some problems. We later discovered that Elizabeth Calvert was Richard "adopted" mother. I put "adopted" because in the 1850s there was no such thing as adoption, this only became legal in 1926. A mother and daughter both called Elizabeth Calvert adopted young Richard, he having been born in the workhouse.

These days of course, with the Internet, such issues are quickly resolved, but then working from prime documents it took a great deal longer. In the case of John Gradwell baptised in 1790 the archivist had given me what was little more than an exercise book. When I opened it I thought she had given me the wrong book because all the entries were burials. It was only when I "turned the book upside down and back to front" that I found that from that side they were all baptisms. The two sets of entries never did meet, I suspect that the 1837 civil registration act overtook them.