Chinese New Year

sduncan post on February 22nd, 2016
Posted in China and Taiwan

By: Eric Li

Chinese New Year is the most important and popular of all the Chinese holidays. It is

held annually, it will be held next year on January 23, 2012. It is a holiday

celebrated all throughout in countries with significant Asian populations like

Mainland China Hong Kong, Indonesia Tibet, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines,

Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and even in Canada. In China it is known as the “Spring

Festival”. Chinese New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year, days in which Chinese

families gather for their annual reunion dinner (Chiu, 2011).

During Chinese New Year, there are many different customs and traditions which

consist of sharing wealth through buying presents, decorating the house, buying

new clothes, and cleaning the house as a sign off sweeping away any ill-fortune in

hopes of bringing in new luck during the new year (Chiu, 2011). Based on my

personal experience, families get together on Chinese New Years Eve and have a

feast consisting of food which celebrates are culture and it is a time of sharing love

and forgetting past conflicts and wishing everyone happiness, well-being, health,

and wealth. The most recognizable, and significant tradition that occurs during

Chinese New Year is the passing of the Red Envelope. This is the most exciting time

for youth, and unmarried individuals as we receive numerous red packets from the

elderly, and married (Mack, 2011).

The red envelope is a long, red envelope with money inside. Traditional envelopes

have gold writing on them, which usually have Chinese characters like happiness or

wealth (Mack, 2011). Unlike western traditions, the red envelope is usually given

unsigned. The envelope is red because in Chinese tradition it is a colour, which

resembles luck and is supposed to ward of evil spirits (Mack, 2011).

The red envelope always contain money, usually varying from a couple dollars to

several hundred depending on how close you are to the elderly. The closer the

bloodline, the more you are likely to receive. Money received in an envelope is

usually even numbers as it is seem as a sign of luck (Mack, 2011). When I receive

envelopes from my elder’s the money inside usually contains eight dollars or six.

Eight is commonly found because it is a homophone for wealth in Chinese and six is

also popular because it sounds like smooth when translated to Chinese (Mack,

2011). Four is always avoided as because it is the homophone for death when

translated to Chinese. When asking for a red envelope, a married person, or elderly

would not turn down the request as it would bring them no luck in the coming year

Mack, 2011).

Red envelopes are also given during weddings, and white envelopes are given

during funerals in that case you would insert an odd number into the envelope.

When receiving a red envelope during Chinese New Year, or on your birthday don’t

open it in front of the giver as it is deemed disrespectful and always use both hands

when receiving or distributing a red envelope as it represents a solemn act and a

sign of respect between the two (Mack, 2011).

Remember when you want to receive a red envelope during Chinese New Year all

you have to say is Gong Hey Fat Choy !

Works Cited

Mack, L (2011). Chinese New Year: Red Envelope:


Chiu, Lisa (2011). The History of Chinese New Year:


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