When you live in China, you’d unavoidably encounter with the “Red envelope” culture, which is also known as 红包（hongbao）or even “lucky money”. It holds a monetary value that is given to and received from friends and families.
Hongbao is given in the event of many celebrations, not limited to only the Spring Festival, it can be gifted at weddings, graduations, birthday parties (especially those for children or senior citizens) or as a work bonus.
What is the legend behind hongbao, how to give and receive a hongbao properly? Now let’s have a look!
Chinese are passionate about the color red, which represents luck, happiness, and good energy. In China, a red envelope is traditionally called 压岁钱 (ya sui qian), which means “suppressing Sui (a monster named Sui came around with intentions to harm children on the night of New Year's Eve) money”. To be more specific, meaning “lucky money to ward off evil spirits”.
How much should we put in hongbao? Actually, the amount of money inside isn't really what is important though. The real significance is found in the cherry-red paper that the envelopes are made of, which gives all the good vibes.
- Never give wrinkled, old or dirty bills.
- No coins.
- Avoid giving unlucky amounts of cash (with number “4” as it's considered a symbol of death, or “250”), suggested amounts are like 66, 88, 200, 600, 800, etc.
- Always be prepared to give out envelopes at any given time.
- If needed, carefully mark your envelopes to keep track of who gets what.
- Use two hands to receive your envelope.
- Don't open the hongbao in front of the person who gave it to you.
- Be thankful.
Nowadays, WeChat or Alipay allows you to send a digital hongbao to save more time. You can send it to individual users or in group chats, and even add a nice message to make the gesture more personal.
We sincerely hope that everyone’s holiday will be packed with happiness and good fortune. Good luck with your hongbao journey!