What’s in a Christian name for Singaporean Chinese?


In Singapore, ever since the colonial days, the English name of a Chinese is commonly referred to as “Christian name”, even though that person is a non-Christian.

In those days, having a Christian name is in vogue among the younger generation, especially the party-goers. These youngsters gave themselves “Christian names” to show that they are the modern youths.


What is “Christian name”?


“Christian name”, strictly speaking, is the name given to a person at his or her “christening” or baptism to Christianity.

But, in Singapore, this term is liberally used as a synonym for “English name”. Therefore, the term “Christian name” mentioned herein does not necessarily mean the “Christening name” of the Christians.

For the Westerners, choosing a Christian name for their baby is a daunting task because the child has to live with the name for the rest of his or her life.

However, in Singapore, it is common for people to change their Christian name whenever they like as it has nothing to do with baptism or whatsoever.


Why need a Christian name?


In the past, addressing someone by their surname is regarded as formal and respectful. However, as the trend is to become less formal, more and more people are calling each other by their Christian name (also referred to as “First name” in most Western countries).

To people of other races, Chinese names are difficult to pronounce or to remember. Due to the practical aspect, many Singaporean Chinese have a Christian name. In the workplace and among friends, they are more often known by their Christian name while their Chinese name is still being used within the family circle.


Selection of Christian name


In all these years, there is not much interest in the meaning of Christian names.

In Singapore, the trend for selecting auspicious Christian names started only a year ago. Singaporean parents have been seeking astrologers’ services to select auspicious English names for their children. Previously, such professional services were sought only for the selection of Chinese names.

However, Chinese metaphysics does not have any system for selection of English names. The selection criteria that are adopted by astrologers are mainly as follows:-

· The meaning of the name, pronunciation and writing

· Whether the name suits that particular person

· Whether the name is suitable throughout all phases of life

· Avoid names of tragic characters in history or in myths

· Do not choose names that are related to gods

· Avoid unisex or weird names


Modern trend in Christian names


Our name is important as it forms a part of our identity. Whenever we meet someone new, our name is the first information we have about each other.

Some people tend to form subconscious views of others, just from hearing the name. Hence, careful consideration should be given to the choice of name. Should our Christian name be traditional or unique?

Nowadays, some parents (especially celebrities) have given their children fanciful or weird names, in their quest to be ‘modern’ and ‘unique’.

Examples of such names are Abcde, Destry, Fuschiea, Fifi Trixibelle, Harper 7, Memphis Eve, Misty Kyd, Moon Unit, Pilot Inspektor, Peaches Honeyblossom, and Teaekeishia.

Strange and weird names have become the burden of some celebrities’ children.



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