Get a Different Name Day
annually on February 13th
Get a Different Name Day is dedicated to all those who hate their birth names. According to the creators of the day, "On this day we may change our names to whatever we wish and have the right to expect colleagues, family and friends to so address us." It appears to be a tongue-in-cheek holiday where people aren't necessarily making their name changes legally. Although today's holiday is for those who change their name because they dislike it, there are many other reasons why people make a switch.
Marriage and divorce are the top reasons why people change their name. Some people change their name because they want to hide from something. Although a legal name change can't be done to evade law enforcement or debt, some people change their name just to have a fresh start. People who are transgender may change it after transitioning to a new gender. Some change their name so it sounds less "ethnic," or so it is easier for others to pronounce. Conversely, some also reclaim a family name that was changed in the past.
Besides not being able to legally change one's name to evade law enforcement or avoid paying bills, there are other rules that must be followed. In most circumstances, it is not permissible to change one's name to a celebrity's name, as that is seen as being misleading. A name can't be changed to a numeral or a punctuation mark. A trademarked name may also not be used, nor can anything that is offensive or obscene.
Changing one's name is a process: paperwork is filled out and it may include going to court. A lawyer is not necessary, but there sometimes are legal fees. Each state has different rules on changing one's name and the cost ranges from under $100 to over $1,000.
A legal document such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court granted petition must first be obtained. Name change petitions usually cost between $100 and $200. Forms are filled out and taken to a court clerk, and a judge or magistrate reviews them and grants the name change. Many states don't require a petition, but many financial and government agencies do.
After the legal document is obtained, applications should be submitted to government agencies such as the Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Internal Revenue Service. Then the name change should be made aware to businesses such as banks, credit card companies, and utility companies. The post office should also be notified.
People change both their first names and last names, do it legally and informally, and for a myriad of reasons. On Get a Different Name Day, any of these routes to changing one's name may be used. But above all, the day is best celebrated by those who get rid of a name they hate.
How to Observe
If you have been thinking about changing your name, today is the perfect day to do it. This is especially the case if you hate your name. The creators of the day also say that if you change it you can expect others to address you as you now want to be addressed. You could change your first, middle, or last name, or all three. The name change can be informal and just for the day, or it can be legal and permanent. If you wish to do the latter, check to see what your state's name change laws are, so you know the best way to proceed. Some companies such as Hitchswitch, I'm a Mrs., and LegalZoom can help streamline the name-changing process. If you are transgender and wish to change your name, the Name Change Project may be of assistance.