The class I went to last night involved quite a bit of discussion with regards to names and the naming of ourselves, our children and how our parents named us. Even for baptism and confirmation, we either choose the names for ourselves (if it’s adult baptism) or we/ our parents choose the names for our children/ us (if it’s child/ baby baptism).
I knew the meaning of my Chinese name quite a while back thanks to Google Translate and online dictionaries (My mother only knew its rough meaning and my father forgot the meaning. HAH.)
It’s not exactly very recognizable but it’s probably due to the traditional background I had so my Chinese name was fashioned from the number of strokes derived from my birth details (Eight Characters, I think?) needed for a “fortunate” name. Hence – 泝缨 came about:
泝 Su – against the stream
缨Ying – tassel of a hat (usually worn by Imperial Ministers)
On the English first name front, I was named by my maternal grandfather. 1988 was an Olympic year so apparently he named me after an Australian sprinter – either he forgot or he named me after something else.
Anyway, while Fr Aloysius was explaining certain name etymologies, I got curious about mine. He said, “Our names are usually an embodiment of who we are and what we should be living up to.”
So I Googled my names, both Joelyn and Alexandra:
Joelyn – Jehovah is God (derived from root name of French origin: Joelle)
Alexandra – Defender/ Helper of Humankind.
I chose Alexandra as a baptism name to model after St. Alexander Sauli, the one who helped people who lost faith to regain it and also because it meant “people helper”. So apart from the “defender” which sounds superhero-ish, Alexandra’s etymology is quite expected.
The one that blew me away was the meaning behind “Joelyn”.
All my life I was raised in a Taoist/ Buddhist family so I never really thought much about my English name – in fact, I didn’t like my name in the first place because it was always so difficult to pronounce (people were always calling me Jocelyn instead) and it wasn’t as girly as Jessica, Amanda or Stephanie. So you would think that my name was probably given on a whim because it sounded nice to my grandfather.
Fr Aloysius told us the meaning behind one of the more obvious biblical names – Elijah or Eliyahu (in Hebrew), which means Yahweh (as the Hebrews said) is God and how Joshua = Jesus because both of them come from the same root word “Yehoshuah”. These names appear over and over again in scripture text, so I never thought much about mine.
So the meaning, “Jehovah is God” actually struck me greatly – whoa does it then mean that I am so much closer to faith than I actually think? I’m not sure and I’m still searching.
Nonetheless, I would still say that the meaning behind names can very well speak about your person and I’m thankful to be given the opportunity to learn about mine. (P/S – Another reason why I never regretted converting to Catholicism. Hee =))