My sister, cousins and I spoke solely English at residence, however we busted out our clumsy, off-key Cantonese (the Chinese language dialect our households communicate) to recite the normal new 12 months’s greeting kung hei fats choy, which suggests “wishing you happiness and prosperity.” As soon as uttered, this magic phrase introduced a shiny red-and-gold envelope into our eagerly awaiting palms.
When is fortunate cash given?
Fortunate cash envelopes—known as lai see in Cantonese and hong bao in Mandarin—are given to kids and, in some locations, seniors within the first two weeks of the Lunar New Yr, up till the primary full moon, a day known as the Spring Competition or Chinese language Lantern Competition (this 12 months, Feb. 5).
Sometimes, when you get married, it’s your flip at hand out envelopes, and also you’ll obtain fewer your self. There aren’t any exhausting and quick guidelines, although—single adults may also give and obtain lai see. Individuals typically give fortunate cash to their service suppliers. My mother and father, for instance, convey crimson envelopes for the servers at their common dim sum spot.
How a lot cash are we speaking?
In my youth, I obtained $5 or $10 from every relative and $20 from every father or mother. Typically, the nearer your relationship is to the recipient, the extra fortunate cash you give, however the quantity is much less vital than the spirit wherein it’s given—in Chinese language tradition, the color crimson is a logo of happiness and good luck.
Fortunate cash isn’t restricted to Lunar New Yr. We additionally give and obtain lai see for particular events like birthdays, weddings, graduations and the start of a child. The envelopes now are available a variety of colors and designs. You’ll be able to even get branded new 12 months’s envelopes from a few of Canada’s large banks, whilst you’re choosing up the crisp new payments to place inside them (giving outdated, wrinkly money is poor etiquette). And in Asia, you’ll be able to ship digital “crimson packets” through WeChat or AliPay.
What else to present for Chinese language New Yr?
When visiting relations, many Chinese language households convey conventional new 12 months’s sweets and snacks. Oranges and clementines are additionally common presents.
Lunar New Yr has develop into extremely commercialized, even in nations outdoors of Asia. My inbox is full of emails from life-style and luxurious manufacturers selling Yr of the Rabbit merchandise—all the pieces from purses, jewelry and sweats to cosmetics, Lego units and yoga mats, some extra thought of than others.
Deal with your self or a good friend should you like, however don’t really feel pressured to purchase. In my expertise, new 12 months’s presents aren’t a part of the custom—and I hope it stays that method, particularly because the Lunar New Yr comes after the spend-y vacation season that features Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.