Birth and choosing a name in VietNam

1/ Birth and childhood

Beliefs and rituals that exist around pregnancy and birth place once again highlight the strong mystical dimension that can be found in Vietnam. To quickly introduce these practices we build on the very descriptive as Luong Can Liem and colleagues (2003) on the subject text.

According to traditional Chinese beliefs origin, it must first consider the newborn as a "harmonious on the supplementary report"  from a meeting between the male and female energy, as part of a cyclic mechanism between the time of birth, death, and through reincarnation, a new birth. Liem then highlights the different representations that may exist between Asian and Western cultures, and thus makes it clear not to see Vietnam newborn as "the third be necessarily regarded as sexed by parents as (assumed) rival, ally or accomplice", but instead fully integrating into an absolute order.

Bertrand (1998), says while this order related to karma, will guide the destiny of the child. Also, if  "the father and mother that create and give shape but it is Heaven that gives the character".

Also, around pregnancy, certain beliefs recommend that the child be conceived and born in a full year and warn pregnancies during Tet, "it would mean that the baby was split before appearing around at birth. It will watch for it to " cleave "no".

At birth, the baby is considered to be one year old since according to Buddhist thought, life is linked with the reincarnation of the spirit, and begins at conception in the minds of parents, and will continue during the nine month of pregnancy. Early, at birth or shortly after, the baby usually receives wrist, wire, attachment symbol with multiple meanings: it represents a "birth certificate and symbolic recognition" that parents give to their new child it also symbolizes the perpetuation of lineage from generation to generation, and finally, "attaches the mind and body into a single entity to start a life".

After birth, it is the mother that ensures the healthy growth of children. Breastfeeding is traditionally held during the first six months, and sometimes extends up to two years supplemented by other food intake (rice soup, minced meat, vegetables...). It is said that the newborn is "without knowledge, without sensations" ("Vo vo tri giac"). This is the mother "awaken senses and intelligence in children. The popular award in this respect without call "poorly educated children, responsibility to the mother" (Con hu tai me). We will see later that this proverb may also apply to the grandmother ...

So after the birth, when the child arrives in the family home for the first time, the family, as with an adult guest will be given a tour of the property, "the parent (father, mother or grandparent) the door of a room to another as (...). It describes the furniture and arrangement of objects as if it was a great person. It operated machines, we give him to understand water valves open, listen windows open. In the Vietnamese countryside, we will tour the garden or visit the family grave as to present to the family". Obviously, during this first visit, the child will also be presented to the ancestors and family gather together before the altar.

Another practice that closely follows the birth is also rich in symbol. Traditionally, the mother or sometimes a grandmother, drawing with the tail of a betel leaf, the eyebrow line: "It is good to do it all at once, a show of hands in a gesture insured carrier as the full confidence that the event requires. Tradition says that this is the way to draw the future beauty of the face and give the visible features of the personality of the child". Then, continuing its entry into the visible world, the baby will be presented to the invisible forces and will welcome the ancestors' altar as well as the genius of the home.

After the wrap party cradle usually held a "divining test" be sensible "pre-register for the fate of the child". During this event the child is placed in front of a plate on which the family has arranged various representative objects with future prospects of choice as a mirror, a pen, a book, a tool ... then left the child enter objects he loves, and there is a fun way his choices . Personal choices of the child will be valued and will then serve as a basis for predicting future events and guess the future of the child.

The relationship between the baby and the invisible world will persist throughout childhood by specific moments and symbolic ceremonies that will include offerings to ancestors and deities first ceremony took place three days after birth, then other occurs after the first month ("Cung Mu"), then a third one hundredth day and the last one for the anniversary of the first year also known as the feast of the end of the cradle ("Thoi Noi") ...

Also, it is usually considered the natural development takes place under the protection of twelve fairies who are each responsible for training the child by teaching him to talk, to laugh, to move ... Also, when "the baby has a months, made ​​a sacrifice to the spirit, asking them protection".

Conversely, popular beliefs also fear "deceased ancestors who take revenge on the children of their descendants, making them sick until desired offerings. Families who had children who died are shelved. But the souls of ancestors who continue to watch over their descendants or persecute are only part of all souls who wander". 

*/ This ceremony is especially dedicated to the goddess Lucina receives twelve pairs of socks, twelve of betel, cakes ... the figure of twelve referring to twelve goddesses who shaped the little man in the womb. 

*/ The concept of the festival hundredth day is the end of the time required for metamorphosis allowing passage of the infant between the formal world (visible) and informal (invisible). This period of one hundred days also applies when death, completing the start of the visible world into space nirvana, and will be celebrated by the "ceremony of the hundredth day".

In this case, Bertrand (1998) reminds us that the pathology of children must often be understood in Vietnam as related to the background world: "the body is carrying Grievance ancestors who torture or it is owned by the minds, the loss of the soul are more rare. Speak and think the disease is also expressing its relation to dead ancestors and the spirits of the afterlife that are very close to those of human needs. They also inspire more respect than fear, they live alongside men and most believe that if we make their rites owed ​​to them, should not have any problems".

2/ Place the boy

Instead of the boy in Vietnam is largely cheaper than the girl as clearly as various popular sayings shows "with one boy was with ten girls, there is nothing" or "ten girls not worth a testicle boy". In rural areas, instead of the boy is preferred because in the rural world, the work of the boy is considered more profitable, which will be more interesting for the parents retreat as recalled the saying, "Child, it relies on its father, old we rely on her children". Also, the boy will enrich the family, since even today, the girl must bring a dowry to her husband's family.

But it is mainly a Confucian view that this preference is rooted. Indeed, in Confucian thought, only boys can pass the name of the family ("ho") and commit ancestor worship within the family. An heir is therefore fully in Confucian thought, but conversely, not having would be considered "most reprehensible" as regards impiety subsidiary. Also, we learn that "Yours Hau expression", have no issue "or Tuyêt Tu", childless "are among the most hurtful insults one can utter".

So if the offspring thus takes on special significance, "an heir to a man becomes a major concern, even an obsession. In cases of infertility, and after trying all the "ordinary" means - in particular, take one or more concubines, craving different deities for they give him a son - it can make in desperation to leave impregnate his wife by a man another region. This custom, called Tha Co, "put to pasture" is accepted by the family while adultery is in other circumstances a crime punishable by the death penalty". 

So in Vietnamese society, the family is "dominated by the father and the male members (...). The woman is relegated to second place".

We can then look at here is the Oedipus complex in Vietnam. Chartier (2006) questioned the universality of this concept and designs for the example of China's "psychic inability to consider the killing of the father". Faced with this, then it offers in searching for himself a "different version where you still find constants instinctual love and hate".

3/ The choice of name

The choice of name for the child also follows many traditions and popular beliefs. Usually in Vietnam, the name is composed of three or four parts. The first is the surname ("HO"), in connection with the order of filiation and belonging to the family and clan that is transmitted through the paternal line. Then follow a middle name ("Ten Lot ") generally refers to the position of the child in a sibling or sex of the child, and a last name ("TEN") which serves as a family and private use.

At birth, the child receives no name, but just a temporary and relatively trivial name, for indeed, "the beautiful names might try devils and ghosts" real name will be given later. Also, we learn that "in the tradition, the double name was also used to deceive an evil genius who could, through there, take the child still fragile hearing his good name".

The choice of the last named part generally refers to a particular meaning. This can refer to Horoscopic animal year of birth, the same root as the Chinese character of the father, a plant name, flower, animal, or a name of metal, virtue, science, season or the place of birth ...  

The beauty of the name, his musicality and symbolism are very popular and "ordinary is the grandfather or father who has the honor of giving the name of the child". Also, it is "Forbidden to give his child the name of an ancestor" or to resume a name already borne by a higher authority: ancestors, kings, illustrious scholars... what would be a lack of respect for the social and family hierarchy. 

The name given by the family will be heavily loaded expectations and hopes: "It thus determines the contours in which the child will grow up and be educated. It is a focal point and a haunting ideal that the person and family and community share together they have established themselves as the purpose and meaning of life to lead or to receive rewards of a life well filled. In practice, the meaning of the name should determine and guide the meaning of existence". 

Also, Liem et al. (2003), see the name given to an element that "[install] in the learning identification of public and private spaces child lived reality of the family felt his place and individual aspiration as a project of life in the social". 

However, the choice of the name should be smooth and without excessive ambition or vanity, because it would risk harming the individual, draw the blinds and not bring him luck. At worst, it could attract evil spirits and evil deeds as fatal diseases that are merely the visible manifestation of the invisible child abduction by a genius.

Also, Liem and Chau (1986) studied the evolution of the name that Vietnamese could wear during their lives, according to their age: name, marital status, common name, the iconic name, alias, the posthumous name... all of which are "benchmarks moments of an individual's life: birth, youth, the transition to an adult social life, old age and death". 

The adult child will be able to choose a name other than that which was given to him by his parents at birth, but he will "explain the reasons for this choice, compared to parental choice, to the family. Without this precaution, the designated individual could later not recognize themselves in prayers and invocations addressed to it after his death, by his descendants".

Also, other situations may cause a change of name as cases of real change in family as the adoption or donation. A name change can also be made to protect a child from bad influences of an evil genius and place in new protections. In all cases, ceremonies should be conducted to involve fathers in this event.

Finally, in a strongly community-oriented dimension, the individual will usually called with his last name, preceded by a title being in community: family title (grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt ...), title socio -professional (scholar, teacher, builder, journalist ...). Awards (notable martyr ...)...

On this subject, see the Memory transcultural psychiatry presented by Hoff, ME (2005). Traditions of personnel changes name to Vietnam to help children in need in their development. Reflections on the role of family traditions for the proper development of a child. Paris 13 University.

Department of Clinical child psychopathology and family under the direction of Dr. Marie- Rose.

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