The Chinese Custom of Giving Red Packet Money as a Gift

Back in January, Ray Lee told us about the tradition of giving red packet money for the Chinese New Year. He sent me this note, this week, about how red packet money can be given all year long…

We talked about red packet money being given out during Chinese New Year. Actually, the Chinese New Year isn’t the only occasion on which red packet money is given out. In general, red packet money is given on occasions that are worth celebrating, e.g. at your kid’s wedding or even birthdays, or when you open your own business.

Please feel free to comment below about gift giving customs in your country.


This article was posted on Tuesday, July 11th, 2006 at 12:40 pm and is filed under China, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Gift Giving, Hong Kong, Mama Lisa, Red Packet Money. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Responses to “The Chinese Custom of Giving Red Packet Money as a Gift”

  1. Jean Te Pridgen Says:

    I stumbled upon this site searching for nursery rhymes. When I was growing up, we used to receive “ang pao” or red packets, which contained lucky money, during birthdays, chinese new year, graduations, weddings, baby christenings, and any occassion that would call for a present. As long as you were single, no matter how old you were, you are eligible to receive red packets as a present. But once you get married, aside from the wedding day, the elders no longer give you red packets; but once you have kids, your kids start getting them! And there is a certain code to follow as to how much money should be in it: for example, you cannot put in $5, $50, or $100, instead it should be $6, $60, or $120. I have no idea why but my mom said something about odds and evens. Now, it is my turn to give red packets to my kids, nephews and nieces. Red packets are given by the older generation to the younger generation and is not usually exchanged within the same generation. It was fun for us when we were kids because during Chinese New Year, we would visit all our elders; like aunts & uncles, grandparents, great grandparents, great aunts & uncles, and we would kiss their hands, mumble the correct chinese greeting and in return, red packets containing money would be given to us. I guess you could call that the chinese version of trick or treating except we would come home with money instead of candy!

  2. Lisa Says:

    That’s interesting. I think getting money sounds even better than candy! Though on days when I’m in the mood for chocolate, it would be hard to choose!

    I looked up the importance of the number six in the Chinese culture. There’s a lot of significance in how words sound, and on what other words they sound like.

    In Mandarin, six is pronounced as liù, which sounds like , which means prosperity.

    In Cantonese, six sounds like “good luck”.

    So in both languages, six would be a good number to choose.

    I’m not sure about the significance of even and odd numbers. I was only able to find out that odd numbers are considered yang or masculine and even numbers are yin or feminine.

  3. Lisa Says:

    FYI My friend Ray from Hong Kong said his family does gift red packet money in denominations of $5.

    I think that some of these beliefs about lucky numbers are regional. Also, like many traditions, they can vary from family to family.

  4. milly Says:

    Why are red packets usually given to children? Any reason behind?

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