The auspicious occasion of the Chinese New Year, or the Lunar New Year in 2024, is set to grace us on Saturday, February 10. The day will mark the arrival of the Year of the Wood Dragon. During the Lunar New Year celebrations, it is customary for the Chinese and other Asian countries to follow the tradition of exchanging red envelopes with their loved ones. The red envelopes are called hóngbāo in Mandarin and Lai See in Cantonese. In Chinese culture, the colour red symbolises energy, passion, good luck, abundance, and prosperity. Hence, these slender rectangular envelopes must be in the colour red. The envelopes are filled with money and gifted to loved ones to wish them blessings and good fortune for the coming year. Chinese New Year 2024 Wishes for Year of the Dragon: 'Gong Hei Fat Choy' Messages, Lunar New Year WhatsApp Stickers, CNY Photos To Celebrate the Spring Festival.

But how did this tradition begin?

Legend has it that the tradition of red envelopes traces back to ancient times. It is said that a demon named Sui would terrorize children in their sleep on New Year’s Eve. To protect their children from this menace, parents came up with a plan to keep their children awake. The children were given 8 coins to play with (the number 8 is considered auspicious in Chinese culture). One child, who was given eight coins to play with, eventually succumbed to sleep. However, these eight coins protected the child. It is believed that the 8 coins were the 8 immortals (legendary heroes in Chinese mythology) in disguise. Hence, the tradition of distributing red envelopes symbolises the continuation of this ancient practice, signifying good luck and warding off evil spirits. Lunar New Year 2024 Traditions and Superstitions: Things To Do for Good Luck, Prosperity and Abundance in the Chinese New Year.

If you want to gift your loved ones the gift of prosperity and abundance this new year, read on to learn more about the red envelope tradition.

What To Put in Red Envelopes Besides Money?

According to traditions, it is customary to put money in an envelope. How much money you give does not matter. However, there are certain rules for this. Do not put coins in the envelope. Put only crisp and new notes. Steer clear of amounts that lead to 4, 40, or 400, as the number 4 is considered unlucky in Chinese culture. However, the number 8 is considered to be good luck. So, gift accordingly. If you are gifting young children, other than money, you can also include positive affirmations, cute origami gifts, or cute Xin Nian Hao (Happy New Year) stickers.

Where To Buy Red Envelopes?

You can purchase Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year envelopes from online platforms like Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, Ubuy, and eBay. They are also available for purchase at local stationery stores. The envelopes can be given physically or even digitally.

Who Gets Red Envelopes?

Red envelopes are generally given to children or younger, unmarried relatives during Chinese New Year. It is usually given by those who are already married. The red envelope is given as a token of good fortune and blessings for the year ahead.

Who Gives Red Envelopes?

Typically, red envelopes are given by married individuals. It can also be given by unmarried individuals who are feeling generous. Close relatives, including parents and grandparents, often continue the tradition of gifting red envelopes to their children and grandchildren even after marriage as a sign of their enduring love and blessings. The custom of giving red envelopes follows a hierarchical structure, with elders gifting younger members of the family. For instance, parents or grandparents give their children or grandchildren the red envelopes. It is generally given to family members and loved ones. However, you can also give red envelopes to your colleagues, house staff, friends, and neighbours.

Is It Bad Luck To Reuse Red Envelopes?

As the Lunar New Year is a time of new beginnings, it is best to leave the old in the past. Most of the red envelopes, however, will carry a symbol or image of the animal zodiac of the year; hence, you will not be able to reuse them anyway. Yet, in a nod to sustainability, generic red envelopes can be reused for celebrations. Chinese New Year 2024: Best Places To Witness the Spectacular Celebrations of Lunar New Year.

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In essence, the tradition of red envelopes goes beyond merely gifting money. It captures the essence of familial bonds, cultural heritage, and the spirit of goodwill. As we exchange these vibrant tokens of prosperity and abundance, let us usher in the Year of the Wood Dragon with hearts full of hope, joy, and unity. On that note, Xin Nian Hao (Happy New Year) 2024.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 09, 2024 04:45 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website