Red Pocket Money

I’ve always loved the tradition of red pocket money as a kid, it was a great way to get extra money during the year.  Although it would have been more profitable if we had a larger extended family!  My son definitely benefits from the tradition when we visit relatives abroad who haven’t seen him in a long time.  He’s just starting to understand the concept of money so I’m sure it’s going to be an even more exciting concept for him in the future.  Lucky for him we’ve invested his pocket money into his college fund or buying Chinese books. 

Red pocket money (aka hong bao, red envelope or lai see) are always red which is a lucky color in Asian culture.  Usually there are crisp new bills enclosed in the envelope.  And it is impolite to open the envelope in front of the giver, definitely wait to find out how much is enclosed and always express your thanks. 

The good thing about red pocket money is that it is not only distributed during the Lunar New Year time frame but can also be given out in a variety of circumstances. 

  • Weddings – usually a preferred gift by the bride and groom.
  • Lunar New Year- the most traditional time to give and receive. Usually children and unmarried young adults are the recipients but parents and older relatives can be the beneficiaries as well since red pocket money is a way to express thanks.
  • Births
  • Seeing long lost relatives
  • Tipping (lion dance performers etc)

There are probably even more situations where red pocket money is given out and received.  The bottom line is red pocket money is always appreciated. 😊  

lunar new year red pocket money

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