January 29th is the first day of the Chinese New Year in 2006. This year is the Year of the Dog.
My friend Ray Lee grew up in Hong Kong. I asked him how the Chinese New Year is celebrated. Here’s what he said…
– The New Year is a time for friends and relatives to go visit one another. Not that you’re not allowed to visit your friends and relatives during the year, but at the beginning of the New Year (i.e. New Year’s day and the couple of days that follow) it is especially encouraged.
– Red packet money: It’s money stuffed inside a red envelope, usually with a new-year-related drawing and/or writing in gold on the front. Parents give their kids red packet money on New Year’s day. Uncles and aunts give their nephews and nieces red packet money too.
And remember I said that people visit one another during the New Year? Well, the visitors will give each other’s kids red packet money. For example, if your family goes to visit my brother’s family, my brother and sister-in-law will give your kids red packet money. And you and your husband will give my brother’s two kids red packet money. Red packet money, however, is not limited to kids.
In general, as long as you’re not married and relatively young (maybe up to 30, but don’t quote me on that), you get red packet money. There has been a lot of debate between me and my co-worker Kate about whether or not someone who is divorced is eligible for red packet money. I think as long as you’re single, you’re good. When you get divorced you regain your eligibility. She, on the other hand, insists that once you get married, no matter what happens, you give up your red packet money eligibility for good. I don’t know who is right. Unfortunately, there is no “International Red Packet Money Council” to set the rules.
– While we are still on the topic of red packet money … How much money should you give? Well, it depends on whom you’re giving to. It’s common practice to walk around with several red packets in your pocket, some carrying less money, some carrying more. Then, when you run into someone and have to give their kids red packet money, you make a quick assessment of how close these people are to you, and you decide how much, i.e. which red packets from your pocket, to give them.
I will write more as I think of more Chinese New Year related traditions.
Thanks Ray and have a Happy New Year!
Come visit the Mama Lisa’s World China page for Kids Songs from China and
The Mama Lisa’s World Taiwan Page for more Chinese Children’s Songs
This article was posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2006 at 1:12 am and is filed under China, Chinese, Chinese New Year, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Gift Giving, Holidays Around the World, Hong Kong, Languages, Red Packet Money, Taiwan. 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.
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