**Update January 31, 2015 – here is a guide to giving lucky envelopes during Chinese New Year.**
This is a follow-up to my blog post about how my family is going to celebrate Chinese New Year. Now that I have a family of my own, I want to create traditions for my girls to participate in and enjoy just like I did when I was growing up.
It is Chinese custom to give money is red envelopes (利是) as gifts during holidays and special occasions. The red color of the envelopes symbolizes good luck and prosperity, and the color of fire which is suppose to ward off evil spirits. The guidelines for giving red envelopes during Chinese New Year are a little different then other holidays. Here are the guidelines we will follow when giving red envelopes during Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year Red Envelope Giving Guidelines
- Married adults give red envelopes to children and unmarried adults. If you are married with children also give to married adults without children as a token of good luck for children-to-come.
- Give 2 red envelopes, one from the wife, one from the husband.
- Each red envelope should contain the same amount.
- The amount in each red envelope and sum of envelopes should not contain the number four, such as 4, 40, 400. The pronunciation of the word “four” (四) is similar word “death” (死), signifying bad luck.
- The money should be new and crisp. Folded, wrinkled money is in bad taste.
- Give cash, no checks, and definitely no coins.
- Don’t sign the back of the red envelope.
Gift Amount Guidelines (as of 2012, inflation could effect amounts for later years)
- Family members should not receive less then $10 (two 5’s). The amount depends on how close you are to the relative (niece you see at holidays and family gatherings vs. cousin’s daughter you met for the first time).
- Children of your good friends should follow the same guidelines as described for family members. There will be many family gatherings during Chinese New Year. Try to get together with your friends to celebrate the New Year.
- Doormen, hair dressers, other personal service professionals should not receive less then $6 (three 1’s in each envelope). The amount depends on how long you have been using their services, how often you see them in a year, how many people provide you the service (ex. doormen). Only give them red envelopes if you see them around the time of the holiday.
Happy Giving! xoxo, Chrissy