Chinese New Year Encyclopedia: Red envelopes

Radiio Taiwan International
Date: 28 January, 2020
By: Natalie Tso

President Tsai Ing-wen gives away a red envelope to a child on Family Day (CNA)

The color red is considered auspicious and can be seen everywhere during Chinese New Year, especially on little red envelopes stuffed with cash. 

Red envelopes or hong bao are a type of gift given in Chinese-speaking communities and other parts of East Asia. The envelope itself has little intrinsic value; it's the money stuffed inside that constitutes the gift. Red envelopes can be gifted during special occasions, such as weddings, and holidays, such as Chinese New Year.

The amount of money in a red envelope depends on the occasion and who is receiving it. During Chinese New Year, small cash gifts are given among relatives and close friends. They are typically given by older family members who have established incomes to younger relatives and children.

When accepting a red envelope, children are supposed to give their blessings for the new year. Parents often receive red envelopes on behalf of very young children, insisting they will "deposit it for them." But whether or not the children will ever see that money again is up to the parents' discretion.    [FULL  STORY]

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