When babies are born, they are often given a "milk" name (nickname or false name) before given their official names, which happens at their first moon or when they have reached 100 days. This can be something cute and simple, like "little" or "precious", a nickname that will be used for most of their childhood with their family. Or it can be something superstitious like "Dog Face", an unappealing name used to protect the child from harm, believing that with this name, the child would not incur the envy or malice of evil spirits.
|Photo Credit: Christopher|
Chinese names generally have a total of 2-3 characters: the family/surname, and then given names. Traditionally, the second character would be the generation name, followed by the given name as the third character. A generation name, for example, would mean brothers and first cousins all share the same character in their name. This practice is much less followed now due to the one child policy and modernization.
In the past, especially, names reflected parent expectations or the political situation. For example, a daughter might have been named "Joined to Brother", to reflect the hope of having a son, or the fifth child might be named "Last Child". Revolutionary names were common during the revolution such as "Strengthening the Nation" and "Eastern Wind".
We decided to choose our own Chinese names, similarly to the Chinese who choose an English name when learning English in secondary school. We checked out this webpage for Mandarin given female names, (and here's the one for male names) and after much deliberation, here is what they have come up with.
Elle: Peaceful Beautiful Lotus Blossom
Xie Fang Han
Pea: Peaceful Crystallized Ripples on Water
Xie Shuang Yi
Me: Peaceful Clear Jade
Xie Ying Lin
Of course, a fortune teller may scoff at these, and they are a bit of a mouthful in their English translations, but they are poetic, aren't they? And "Peaceful" as our family name, well that is the most auspicious wish for any family I can think of.