Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Significance of Ang Pows 红包/利事 and Chinese New Year Greetings

This year, according to the lunar calendar and the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2014 is the Year of the Horse and falls on the 31st January 2014. It is celebrated by Chinese all over the world. Lunar New Year denotes new beginnings and a fresh start.
This is a time of celebration, reunion, forgiveness, sharing and thanksgiving. This is the day Ang Pow plays an important part of our Chinese tradition.
Ang Pow or red packet is commonly known as “Lai See”. Ang Pow is extremely auspicious among the Chinese community.
The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits.
It’s also a gift of money which symbolizes blessings, good luck, good health and success.
We usually put brand new notes (but not necessary) inside red envelopes. I don’t mind getting old notes as long as it’s legal tender, hahaha!
Besides Chinese New Year, Lai See is also given during weddings and birthdays. It’s a tradition to give Ang Pows to children or those who are still single during Chinese New Year.
As working or married adults, we also give Lai See to our elders ie. grandparents, parents, parents-in-laws, and our loved ones. My hubby gives me Ang Pow too during Chinese New Year. Likewise, my parents and in-law also give Ang Pows to their daughters-in-law, sons-in-law and also married children. It’s always an honour to receive red packets sealed with blessings and good wishes regardless of the amount of money received.  
My children have been taught and advised not to open the ang pows they received in front of others out of courtesy. They usually keep their ang pows received until the 15th day of the Chinese New Year; that’s Chap Goh Mei, and only open the red packets to count how much they have received before I keep it for them in their bank account.
Chinese are very particular when giving or receiving money during any auspicious or happy occasions such as Chinese New Year, weddings, birthdays, etc.
For the benefits of my foreign and non-Chinese readers, should you need to give money as a gift to a Chinese friend during a happy occasion, always remember it must be in red packets or pink envelopes.
Please bear in mind that money as a gift in a white envelope is a BIG NO, NO. This is only given as ‘Pak Kam’ (white gold) which is being donated to a deceased family so as to ease their financial burden for any funeral expenses incurred.
Asian Chinese get offended easily when receiving money in white envelopes!! So, my dear friends, should you need to give money as a gift to any of your Chinese friends or business associates, always use RED PACKETS for happy occasions and white envelopes to a deceased family.
It’s also common practice in Chinese organisation where employers give Ang Pows to employees as bonus before the office closed  for the Chinese New Year and on the day when the company reopens for business after Chinese New Year holidays.
Banks, big organisations, insurance companies, departmental stores, and shops distribute free Ang Pow packets to their customers.
In the olden days, Ang Pows were usually a red piece of paper where money is wrapped inside. 
However, time has changed and the design and artwork of the Lai See has improved in many ways. Ang Pow packets come in attractive designs.
These designs can be in carps, peonies in full bloom, golden mandarin oranges, golden pineapples, Chinese zodiac animals in accordance to the relevant year, etc. Each design has a different motif that is significant to the Chinese New Year.
Over the years, I have been collecting some truly attractive and beautiful Ang Pow packets. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my dearest sister who have recently generously given me some of her limited collection of beautiful Ang Pow packets.
Thanks Dear !!!
Let’s gallop confidently into a healthy and prosperous year of the Horse with abundance of good luck, remarkable achievements and an endless journey of successful goals and dreams!!!
Gong Xi Fatt Chai !!!


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