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Lucky Money in Red Envelopes For Chinese New Year
During Chinese New Year, young people who welcome their elders with a happy and abundant new year receive lucky red envelopes from elders. These envelopes are really lucky for a young person because they contain money. Lucky red envelopes are called “hong bao” in Mandarin or “lai see” in Cantonese.
Symbolism of the lucky envelope
Giving money during Chinese New Year is considered lucky for both the giver and the receiver. Those who give will also invite the flow of money throughout the year. Giving these envelopes also symbolizes that family luck is also passed on to children and single teenagers/adults.
As usual, red is the luckiest color, as it symbolizes life, so it is appropriate for Chinese New Year items to be colored red. Hong paos have assorted designs, such as happy children, Chinese characters for abundance and greetings, zodiac animals, and more. The Chinese word for red (“hong”) also sounds like “many”. Thus, it is believed that money wrapped in red will cause money to multiply.
The money inside the hong bao is called Ya Sui Qian. You mean delete; Sui somehow sounds like an evil spirit. Qian means money. Therefore, Ya Sui Qian means money which can suppress evil spirits. It is believed that this lucky money can also help children to be safe and healthy for the year.
Giving the Hong Bao/ Lai See
Money in even amounts, with the exception of 4, is considered lucky. 4 is not a good amount to put in lucky envelopes because the Chinese word for “four” sounds like the sound of “death”. A good way to gauge how much to put in a hong bao is roughly the same amount as a candy bar. An adult can donate 1 envelope, while married couples usually donate 2 envelopes. It is said that in some parts of China, only mothers give hong bao.
Young people graciously accept these lucky envelopes on Chinese New Year’s Day with a heartfelt thank you (meaning “xie xie” in Mandarin or “doi jeh” in Cantonese). They often thank by kneeling 3 times.
For the sake of good manners, the hong bao should not be opened in the presence of the giver. The receiver can only do this after leaving the giver.
It is recommended to keep the lucky money inside the hong bao and not spend it immediately. Young people are encouraged to save their money. And in addition, we believe that this money brings luck and well-being so we might as well keep it.
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