In the Czech Republic, every day of the year has a unique personal name, in which people celebrate the “name day” that corresponds with their own — except for national holidays. In a bizarre coincidence, September 10th’s name just so happens to be Irma, same as the hurricane that is expected to touch down on the Southern United States over the weekend.
The calendar is not just fun and games. In the past, parents were expected to choose the name that corresponded with that day, all of which were originally pulled from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints. Unique or unusual names would have to be submitted and approved by a government office. Many of the names on the original list have been updated in recent decades to keep up with modern trends, however.
Name Day gained even greater meaning to the people of the Czech Republic in the 1980’s due to the fall of Communism and resurgence of the importance of individual identity versus serfdom for the “state.”
The US community with the most residents born in the Czech Republic also happens to be Masaryktown, Florida.
Hurricanes are named after humans because it is easier to remember than numbers or scientific terms. The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization uses six alphabetically-arranged lists of 21 names for naming the storms. Names currently in the roster can be found on the National Hurricane Center website.
Given that both lists have names chosen long ago, the coincidence has been noted as quite remarkable by those who are familiar with the Name Day traditions.
Florida residents in several areas have now been ordered to evacuate as the category five hurricane is expected to hit as soon as Friday. Irma has already struck the small island of Barbuda, which has been reduced to nearly 100% rubble. Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of the island, has stated that “the entire housing stock was damaged. It is just total devastation.” He added that the island is nearly uninhabitable in the hurricane’s wake.
Likewise, the island of Saint-Martin is “almost destroyed,” according to government officials and Richard Branson’s private island in the Caribbean has been “completely and utterly devastated.”
“I have never seen anything like this hurricane. Necker and the whole area have been completely and utterly devastated,” Branson wrote in a blog post on the Virgin website. Fortunately, he and his staff are all safe and physically unharmed.
Irma is the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Atlantic basin outside the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.