After hearing a couple of anecdotes from friends about Taiwanese naming and name changing traditions, I asked my internship supervisor if I could write an article about the practice. He suggested I head to Fortunetellers’ Street near Xingtian Temple and ask one of the fortune tellers for a new name. While there, I also got some information about my future.
I’d seen fortune tellers at night markets before, often assisted by birds, but the language barrier stopped me from approaching. Fortunetellers’ Street is a popular tourist destination, so many of the practitioners offer their services in foreign languages.
A news article in the fortunetellers’ stall details the experience of foreigners who come to get a Chinese name.
The fortune teller I spoke with told me to come back the next day to receive a name, but offered to tell my fortune in the meantime. Using my palm, Bazi (八字 – a system which relies a person’s birth date and time), the Chinese zodiac and 5-element system (earth, wood, fire, water, metal), and grains of rice, she gave me an overview of what my life will be like.
“You are a woman on the outside but you have the character of a man,” was the first, and most striking, thing she told me. Other things in my life should balance this masculinity – my husband should not be a macho tough guy, otherwise, we will clash.
Fortunetellers can often be found at night markets like this one.
I should focus on my career and become a professional, like a banker or public employee, then stay at one job for a long time, as change is not great for me. Travel, however, is; Asia is the best place for me to live, especially Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand (but not China!), followed by the US and Canada.
Red and blue are my lucky colors (I was wearing a blue dress and have red hair-coincidence?). I shouldn’t live under the same roof as my parents, but living on the same street is ok. I can have children – one is ideal, two is fine, but certainly no more than that. I’m an avid runner in real life, but unfortunately it’s not the sport for me. My personality tends to be anxious, so I should try relaxing sports like dance, swimming, or yoga instead.
The sheet containing my fortune.
I should trust my intuition, except when it comes to love life, and I’d be better off with a match someone else introduces me to. The next three years are unlucky, and unless I keep my head down while studying and working, something bad could happen. It is best for me to dress simply avoid flashy patterns, too much makeup, or elaborate hairstyles.
Will I stop running and start wearing blue and red all the time? Probably not, but visiting a
fortune teller was a special experience that gave me a glimpse of Taiwanese culture from a new angle. Some of my Taiwanese friends put less stock in the advice of fortune tellers than older generations do, but even they agree that anything which helps you feel confident in your decisions is a good thing. Speaking with the fortune teller reminded me to work with what I have and embrace the parts of myself I sometimes try to suppress. And of course, I’m curious to see which of the predictions will come true!