Red Envelopes/Packets (Hongbao)
Red packets, also called ‘Lai see’, and are the money wrapped by red paper given to kids from their parents, grandparents and other elders as New Year gifts. Sending red packets is a custom in Chinese New Year. Chinese people love the red color, and regard red as the symbol of energy, happy and good luck. Sending red packets to kids is a channel to send good wish and luck to them. Actually, the magnificence of red packets is the red paper which symbolize good luck, but not the money in packets. Wrapping money in packets aims to bring more happiness to the kids. Hence, it is impolite to open a red packet in front of the person who gives you.
How to Send the Red Packets
In China, the red packet is named Yasui Money (压岁钱) which means to overcome the ghosts. Kids receiving the red packet implies that they can have another year safely and peacefully. Elders who intend to send red packets need to prepare them in advance, such as after the New Year's Feast. When the bell of a New Year is ringing, kids would begin to pay New Year greetings to their elders, then the elders can send their red packets. Of course, the red packets can be put under the kids’ pillows by their parents when the kids fall asleep in the New Year’s Eve.
Who should I give red packet to? And how much should I wrap in a red packet?
Traditionally speaking, if you have joined in work, it is time to start your experience of giving red packets. In fact, giving a red packet is a measure of sending your blessings. Generally, the money wrapped in the red packets depends on your income.
- To the elders (especially your parents and grandparents): always 400 yuan–2000 yuan
- To the younger generation without work (especially those who are still at school), such as the children of your close friends, your relatives and your collages: always 50 yuan–200 yuan
- To your own children: always 100 yuan–the amount you happy to give
- To your employees: always 100 yuan–1000 yuan (always give on the last work day before Chinese New Year Holiday)
- Kind reminder: prepare some small red packets wrapped in 10 yuan or 20 yuan for some acquaintances’ children, in case of coming across them during Chinese New Year days.
However, there is another custom that if you are not married, you need not to send red packets to others. Your close relatives (like your parents and your grandparents) would keep giving you red packets even though you are married, which is a symbolism of their love and blessings to you.
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