What is Written on Chinese Red Envelopes? New Year Ang Pao Guide
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One of the most significant holidays that are celebrated is Chinese New Year even if the date fluctuates each year. It is very colorful, abundant and could last in two to three days.
There are different symbols during this festive season that have corresponding meanings such as plum blossoms for hope and courage and water narcissus as “flower of good fortune.” The Chinese words for “Good Luck” will be written on red paper shaped in diamond and “lucky oranges” are also placed around the house.
Aside from that, one common tradition is the giving of money as a gift placed inside a red envelope.
In this article, you’ll learn interesting and helpful info, including the characters written on Chinese red packets and other details, which will serve as your guide.
A Short Background History on Using Red Packets
There are different versions of red envelope history and there was one story that came from the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), China. It was believed that a demon was terrorizing a village and that nobody has found the means to defeat it, not even the political leaders and warriors during that time. There was a young orphan with a magical sword that was given by ancestors, which lead to a battle that eventually killed the demon. There was peace from then on and the elders presented the orphan a red envelope or maybe a red pouch perhaps considering the time it happened; it was filled with a lot of money to repay the courage and for successfully eradicating the terrorizing demon.
There was another story from the Qin Dynasty wherein the elderly people would be threading coins using a red string known as y? suì qián which means “to avoid old age.” Those who received it will be protected from illness, death and aging. Over time, it was replaced with red paper envelopes or ang pow’s when printing presses have become common.
So in Chinese New Year it’s tradition to greet adults that are visiting a household with kids saying “G?ng X? F? Cái, Hóng B?o Ná Lái” translated as “Best wishes for the New Year, may I have my red envelope please?”
Interesting Facts on the Culture behind Chinese Red Envelopes
The bright and beautiful red packets also known as ??, hóngb?o symbolizes good luck, giving it to friends and family. The most important element here is the envelope itself and not the cash in it. The color red is believed to symbolize prosperity and good luck in Chinese as well as other East Asian cultures.
Here are interesting facts that you will want to know:
- The red envelopes are usually given to family members, friends and colleagues wherein the amount is accustomed to whatever the relation is. A good example is the grandparents, and parents get the highest amount compared to casual acquaintances and employees.
- There are rules that need to be followed when giving red packets and even when receiving. You need to obey those practices since they are part of tradition (it will be mentioned later in this article). One example here is only fresh and crisp notes should be placed inside a hongboa.
- Today’s high-tech age, many people now prefer digital red envelopes than using the traditional paper packets. It is virtual but very real value of money is transferred using an application through gadgets such as smartphones. If you have a favorite artist, you may even send a hongbao to the person.
- The number 4 is never included in any amounts because the word “four” sounds like the word “death” in Chinese. However, for those that include amounts with the number “8” will mostly bring prosperity and good luck.
- The Red envelope is not just used in Chinese New Year. It may also be used in other celebrations when sharing blessing and good luck such as the birth of a new-born baby, weddings, graduation, etc. Color matters a lot since it has different meanings. For example: White envelopes are usually used at funerals.
- This tradition has crossed other traditions and religions. The giving of green envelope is a practice done all over Southeast Asia every Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr. This is also practiced by Southeast Asian and Chinese movement all over the world with huge celebrations in New York and London. Red envelope is indeed a global spread.
Aside from these interesting facts, you might also be wondering on what the Chinese images and characters mean. Below are the details.
The Chinese Image and Character Meanings on a Red Packet
The red packets have images or Chinese characters written on the front, conveying meanings to express a certain occasion. Below are the details:
|Fish||It has been known to represent luck and wealth. If it’s shown on the red packet, it means abundance of everything each year.|
|Young boy and a girl||It shows kids that are excited to receive the red envelope.|
|The Three Immortals (Fuk Luk & Sau)||Fuk is known as the deity of riches, Luk signifies power and authority, and Sau represents longevity.|
|Phoenix and dragon||Mostly used in wedding packets. It signifies yin and yang (female and male) which symbolize a blissful bond between the wife and husband.|
|Mandarin Citrus Fruit (like an orange)||It sounds like “gold” in Cantonese, representing wealth.|
|Chinese Zodiac Animals||These are the 12 animals based on the cycle of the lunar year.|
|Double ‘He’ (?)||This is known as the double happiness symbol that is commonly used in wedding decors. It signifies happiness.|
|‘Gong He Fat Choi’ (????)||These are congratulations and prosperity. If you receive a packet with these symbols, it means you are wished with good luck and prosperity.|
|‘Fook’ (?)||Fortune and good luck.|
|‘Ya Sui Chin’ (???)||Money to ward off any evil spirit.|
|‘San Nian Fai Lok’ (????)||Happy New Year|
So when you use a red envelop, make sure to know the symbols to avoid confusion to the receiver.
How Much Money Should You Give When Using a Red Packet
Giving money during occasions such as Chinese New Year using a red envelope is a way of sharing your blessings. The amount that you can put inside the packet usually depends on your income. It has been a tradition that if you are not married yet, it is a need to give red packets to others.
On Chinese New Year’s Eve or on the New Year’s Day, parents usually are ready with a red envelope, placing it in the pockets of their kids. Red packets are normally used only among families who are giving and receiving it. However, in some rural areas, the practice is to give it to every child whom you meet during the New Year time.
Your relatives such as your parents and grandparents will continue to give you red envelopes even when you are already married since it symbolizes their blessing and love for you.
How much money should be in a red packet? Here’s a guide that you can use:
|Elders, most especially your parents and grandparents.||500–2,000 yuan.|
|To your own kids.||100 yuan up to the amount you are happy to share.|
|To the younger age bracket with no income. Specifically the ones who are still going to school.||50–200 yuan|
|To other kids.||Use small red packets and put 10 yuan or 20 for the kids of your acquaintances in case you’ll be meeting them during the Chinese New Year time.|
|To your employees if you have a business.||100–1,000 yuan which are given on the last workday before the holiday of Chinese New Year.|
People may have different reasons why they want to give red envelopes to others.
- It serves as protection against an evil monster.
There are different legends and stories about how an evil monster is attacking kids or village people. The story usually ends on people praying or asking for help from those who can fight these evil spirits. The people threaded coins using a red string which warded off the monster and never to return since it has become a tradition. The coins are now replaced with notes while the thread is now popularly known as red envelopes.
- Sharing your blessing.
The giving of red packets is a gift for the ones that we love, or those that we know that are close to us or even to those who are our acquaintances. Red is a most popular and fortunate color in China, wherein people use it to share their blessing and joy to others.
Tips When Giving a Red Envelope during New Year
When you give a red envelope, there are certain things that you need to remember since this is a very important tradition that everyone is still practicing up until today.
- New bills or notes – it is a custom to put crisp and new bills inside a red packet during Chinese New Year. It is not good to give a dirty and wrinkled note. Before the celebration, people would stand in a long line at banks just to have their old bills exchanged to new.
- Do not give amounts in 40 yuan or 400 yuan since it is considered as bad luck as what was mentioned earlier in this article. Even numbers are better than odd ones except for number four. It is known to enhance luck if you start or end with number eight.
- You should avoid putting coins.
- Prepare your red packets in advance and you have to carry some of them with you during the Chinese New Year Period just in case you’ll be meeting someone whom you need to give the red packet to.
What to Do When Receiving the Envelope
To avoid becoming rude when receiving a red envelope, you may want to remember these tips:
- To be polite, always receive it with both hands.
- Always express your thanks and greetings to the giver using popular Chinese phrases such as X?nnián h?o (Happy New Year), Guònián h?o (Happy New Year), Jíx?ng g?ozhào (‘lucky star high shines’), etc.
- Do not open the red packet right infront of the person who gave it to you. Do it privately.
Sending Red Envelopes through WeChat
WeChat red packets or WeChat red envelope is transferring money online using a messaging application called WeChat.
This is popular to young ones. Over the years, it has become a good way to send a red envelope with a colorful message as a greeting, but it has now evolved wherein you can greet your friends and relatives during the span of Chinese New Year celebration.
The Shape and Design of Red Packets
Red envelopes are usually designed with red and gold colors since it symbolizes abundance, good luck and to ward off evil spirits.
Today, printing companies are making promotional red packets with popular cartoon characters.
However, the traditional designs in front of the red packets are carefully done using different symbols promoting success for the whole year, long life, wealth, good health and luck.
Aside from the characters, graphics may also be included such as swimming carps in the flowering lilies, intertwined dragon and Phoenix, peonies in full bloom, the three immortals, golden pineapples and many other attractive and beautiful designs.
It’s all about quality and presentation, and many printing companies take pride in producing it.
Should You Do This Tradition for Chinese New Year?
Giving and receiving red envelopes has been done for a long a time, a tradition that can keep family ties, maintain good relationship and communication. Regardless of how old you are; this is a tradition between close family, relatives and friends.
But today, you can give red packets to almost anyone. The giving of red envelopes to your acquaintance, co-workers or higher-up’s kids are usually done for social interacting. It is mostly for fun between friends and being polite with acquaintances.
Other Names for Red Envelope
The national language of China is Mandarin wherein the red envelope is called “hong bao.” Here are the common names that you will want to know:
Language Country Red Packet
Mandarin – China, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia – hong bao
Hokkien – Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan – ang pow/ang bao
Cantonese – Hong Kong – lai see
Vietnamese – Vietnam – Lì Xì
Korean – Korea – Sae Bae Don
Red Enevelopes Feng Shui
This is a time-honored tradition that originated in the Chinese folk culture. As what was mentioned earlier, red represents power and good luck. The rectangular shape of the envelope resembles ancient shields, which mean protection. Feng shui practitioners are presented with one or more red packets with money placed inside as payment whenever they share their mystical cures or sacred wisdom. However, there are consultants that are specific in their fees aside from the red envelopes, there are also some that would like to have their fees placed in one or more red packets, as others may also want to specify the number of red envelopes and leave you decide on the amount to put inside them. The tradition differs.
If the issues are deeply rooted or require complex solutions, more red packets may be demanded. Multiples of nine are favorable. The number 27 is considered a strong number in feng shui while 108 is favorable. The red packets energetically shield the giver and receiver.
According to tradition, the red packets have the following effects:
- It can show the giver’s appreciation, sincere intention and respect for the shared sacred knowledge.
- It can strengthen and boost the efficiency of the information given.
- It can protect the feng shui practitioner away from harm for naively or inappropriately revealing secret info.
- It acknowledges the integrity of the relationship at work.
Ancient wisdom and feng shui works on different levels that are not constantly obvious. It is fundamental being open to the probability that an expert may be able to help you.
Making Your Own Envelope for CNY
Here are simple steps in making your own red packet. It’s also a good project for kids.
What you need:
- 1 piece of plain white paper
- Red paper
- Paper glue or pritt stick glue
- Draw a pattern of the envelope. You can use an extra red packet that you have and open it carefully, using it as your guide for the envelope pattern. Or find a template over the Internet and print it.
- Use your pen to trace it on the white paper.
- Cut and fold by following the lines.
- Apply glue.
- Put designs and be creative.
It’s simple and fun.
Buying A Ready-Made
A do-it-yourself red packet is an activity that is mostly enjoyed by kids and adults. Coloring it is an opportunity to teach the young ones the tradition and importance of using the right elements and the reason behind them.
Making one may be a hassle to some and buying a ready-made red envelope is best option. There are companies that sell them in packs of ten or more. You can select the ones that fit your needs or the ones that are appropriate for the receiver. You can also have them custom made; you’ll just have to inform the designer or printing company what you want for your red packet.
How Much Will It Cost to Order Online?
The cost will depend on the size, the material used, the colors and designs applied. When ordering online, there’s a minimum order on the number of envelopes depending on the printing company. You’ll pay lesser if you order more.
Ordering online is less-hassle and there are many options that you can choose from.
Alibaba printing can take care of your red envelope printing needs. Our clients range from local and international companies, providing only high-quality materials and finished products.
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