Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most important festival in Chinese culture. It is celebrated on the new moon of the first month of the lunar calendar, usually between January 21 and February 20, and it is a time to enjoy delicious food and meet with your extended family. In 2018, the first day of the lunar new year is Friday, February 16, and according to the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Dog begins.
The Chinese New Year is a time of change and new beginnings. And to celebrate this great festival, they have several traditions such as cleaning the house thoroughly to remove any bad fortune, decorating the doors and walls with red paper that contain good wishes, wearing new clothes, eating fish because it is a symbol of abundance, and giving money in red paper envelopes.
The red envelope (紅包, hóngbāo) is simply a red paper bag decorated with Chinese calligraphy and words that convey good luck and happiness to the recipient. The color red symbolizes prosperity, good fortune and joy in Chinese culture.
The tradition is to place money inside the envelopes that later the parents or grandparents give to the children of the family, or the bosses to their employees to distribute good wishes and share blessings.
It is common to put in the red envelope bills that are new because delivering dirty or wrinkled bills is of bad taste. Therefore, in the weeks leading up to the Chinese New Year, many people make long lines at the banks to exchange old bills for new ones.
The amount of money contained in the envelope usually ends with an even digit, it is avoided to give amounts that have the number 4 because it is considered bad luck. It is best that the amount begins or ends with number eight, such as 800 yuan (which is the official currency of China), as it is believed that it will bring good luck and prosperity.
The amount of money that is given depends on the financial situation of each person, and the age and relationship they have with the person who will receive the envelope. For the most part, younger children are given approximately the equivalent of US $ 7, and older children and teenagers are given more money. The amount is usually enough for the child to buy a gift.
Another tradition during this time is to pay old debts you have to start the new year free of ties and achieve financial prosperity.