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Why some Chinese believe a name change could improve luck

May adopting a brand new identify enhance your fortune? Some Chinese language communities assume so.

One afternoon in April, Mandy Pang’s worst fears got here true. She was summoned onto a Zoom along with her boss on brief discover. Because of the financial downturn from the pandemic, she was being made redundant at her advertising job.  

Indignant and damage, the 29-year-old Hong Konger went again residence and commenced brooding over recollections from her earlier jobs, and the “unhealthy luck” that gave the impression to be holding her hostage. A month later, nonetheless on the lookout for work, Pang determined she knew what she needed to do: change her authorized identify in a bid to shake off her unhealthy luck and enhance her future prospects. 

She says, “My mom’s good friend informed me that the brand new identify may also help me fend off ‘petty folks’” – those that have a unfavourable affect over her life. 

In conventional Chinese language tradition, the that means behind names has all the time carried big significance. Chinese language communities throughout East Asia imagine a reputation can have an effect on one’s luck in each side of their lives, from well being and romance to funds and tutorial efficiency. Because the pandemic continues to hit the economic system laborious, folks like Pang who discover themselves out of labor will not be solely sharpening their CVs, but additionally heading to fortune tellers for recommendation on whether or not a brand new identify would possibly change their futures. 

“Chinese language folks imagine that there are 10 issues that resolve their future,” says Lee Shing-chak, one among Hong Kong’s most well-known feng shui practitioners. “Aside from one’s timing of delivery or doing good deeds, one’s identify is believed to be one of many elements within the equation.”

Beneath this historic perception in power stream and steadiness, a child is known as after a cautious evaluation of the precise time of delivery, and which of the fundamental parts of Chinese language characters (fireplace, wooden, water, steel and earth) coincide on the astrological calendar. In addition to sounding good and having an auspicious variety of character strokes, the identify ought to ‘steadiness out’ the weather, to assist enhance one’s luck. 

So, the speculation is that if issues are going awry later in life, you’ll be able to introduce a brand new component to restore a number of the imbalance that’s inflicting you unhealthy fortune. 

Every fortune teller can have their very own interpretation of astrology and feng shui. Pang’s fortune teller, for instance, suggested her to vary one of many Chinese language characters in her first identify to a different which means ‘addition’, to spice up her good luck. 

Equally, Chin Foukin, from Guangdong, China, was round 4 years previous when he had a metal-element character added to his identify. He had been struck down with a respiratory illness for months, and had not recovered regardless of seeing a number of docs. His mom modified his identify to compensate for the dearth of a steel component in his feng shui, within the hope that he might get well by rebalancing the weather. 

My mom’s good friend informed me that the brand new identify may also help me fend off ‘petty folks’ – Mandy Pang

“My illness was mysteriously gone after that, and my mom believed that altering my identify was one of many causes for my restoration,” says the 24-year-old property employee. Nevertheless, he’s extra sceptical of whether or not his identify change was actually his panacea. “My guess was that my immune system bettered after I obtained older.” 

Though there is not any scientific proof that these superstitions have any actual impact, identify modifications can have a robust placebo impact, in keeping with Zhang Yan, affiliate professor of promoting on the Nationwide College of Singapore. He has achieved intensive analysis on the psychology behind superstitious rituals. 

Zhang says, “Individuals crave for a way of management, particularly in the course of the time of uncertainty. Altering names may give folks a way of management they need, as if they might change the course of occasions so long as they’ll change the identify. It will not assist objectively, but when we have in mind that such a way of management might calm down anxiousness, it’s potential that this act can positively contribute to the later evolvement of occasions, as folks would possibly act extra confidently.” 

In Hong Kong, Laura Yip’s household are satisfied the 23-year-old turned simpler going after she adopted their recommendation to vary her identify at age 18. She says, “My complete household imagine in feng shui, and I do too, by some means. My uncle mentioned it’s simpler for me to get married if I alter my identify, whereas my mother needed me to have higher luck rising up.”

Yip, whose Chinese language identify was Yip On Yu, gave the small print of her birthday to a fortune teller, who provided her the brand new identify after “consulting the gods”. The brand new identify, Yip Shun Yan, which she says she actually likes, is supposed to rebalance the weather in her life and assist along with her luck in interpersonal relationships. 

The entire course of was not low cost, costing her about HK$15,000 ($1,930, £1,440), together with HK$500 to register her authorized identify change. However she believes it was price it. “I was very blunt after I was youthful, and so they each [her mother and uncle] informed me that I turned extra ‘girly’ and ‘soft-spoken’ after my identify was modified. I can’t make sure that the brand new identify was the explanation, however I did turn into extra sociable and well mannered after I began working.” 

Yip says her mom makes use of her identify not less than twice within the morning, to make it work higher. “The practitioner informed me that it’s more practical if folks name the brand new identify extra typically, so I requested my associates to name me with my new one.”

My uncle mentioned it’s simpler for me to get married if I alter my identify, whereas my mother needed me to have higher luck rising up – Laura Yip

Anecdotal proof suggests this name-changing development occurs throughout occasions of uncertainty in different elements of East Asia the place Chinese language traditions are practiced. For instance, reviews present that almost 150,000 South Koreans utilized to vary their names in 2016 when the nation recorded a excessive charge of unemployment.

This yr, the worldwide economic system has skilled an enormous downturn, with many international locations witnessing excessive unemployment charges. In September, Hong Kong recorded the highest seasonal unemployment charge in almost 16 years. This pandemic affect comes on prime of a interval of intense political instability.

Based on authorities information, the variety of purposes for name-changing has elevated yearly over the previous 5 years. Within the first 9 months of 2020, 1,252 folks utilized to vary their identify in Hong Kong, and 1,600 did the identical in 2019, though there are not any official statistics on what number of did so solely to enhance their luck. 

However Mak Ling-ling, one other well-known feng shui practitioner in Hong Kong, says demand for her renaming recommendation has been excessive in recent times, and that amongst adults “about 60 to 70% got here to me to eliminate their unhealthy luck”. She says a brand new identify may also help “alter one’s aura” after main life modifications like shedding a job. “One’s identify is much like one’s garments – it represents one’s character and presumably class. Particularly in China, many need their names to sound extra trendy and fewer widespread to allow them to stand out within the crowd once they search for jobs”.

However Mak warns that individuals altering their names in search of to thoroughly swap one’s character traits or attaining a sure aim are seemingly not going to get what they need. “Some mother and father wish to change their offspring’s names, in order that they get to the highest in school. That’s unattainable. Altering one’s identify may also help with bringing luck to a brand new route, however it definitely doesn’t go far and past one’s elementary capabilities.”

One’s identify is much like one’s garments – it represents one’s character and presumably class – Mak Ling-ling

Pang has doubts if her new identify has modified issues for her, as her luck in her profession hasn’t improved up to now: she left her new job in mid-November after working there for simply greater than a month. She says, “I don’t plan to work once more this yr – I’ll concentrate on finding out as an alternative.” 

In the meantime, Zhang warns Hong Kong’s jobseekers that they shouldn’t rely an excessive amount of on a brand new identify to enhance their prospects. “It doesn’t damage to vary names, however we now have to do not forget that that is only a superstitious motion which might not change the prospect [in a situation]. You continue to must work laborious to make issues higher.”


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