What do people usually give each other at Chinese New Year?
The year of the horse is just around the corner, but for many Chinese people the New Year celebrations have already begun. There are many different traditions that take place both before and after the Chinese New Year, including the gifting of money and small presents. Here are the traditions surrounding gift giving, so that you know how to prepare for the Chinese New Year.
One of the biggest traditions that take place during the Chinese New Year is the giving of small red packets filled with money. These are usually given by married couples or elderly family members to young children and teenagers. The money they contain ranges from one to a few thousand Chinese Yuan and should equate to an even number, as odd numbered amounts of money are associated with funerals. Six or eight are good numbers to choose, as they are both seen as very lucky numbers in China. After being given the red packet, the children place it under their pillows and sleep on it for seven nights before opening it.
The packets are given to children in belief that they will suppress the evil within them and keep them healthy, so they will live long lives. Businesses also give red packets away to their employees, but these packets contain a bonus to bring their workers good luck, health and wealth in the New Year.
Importance of the colour red
Red is seen as an extremely lucky colour to the Chinese because of an old Chinese tale. According to legend, a mythical beast called the Nian attacked a village on the first day of every New Year. The beast would eat the village's food, crops and sometimes the villagers themselves. One day, the villagers noticed that the Nian was scared away by a child wearing red. From then on, on Chinese New Year the villagers would hang up red lanterns, wear red clothes and light fire crackers to keep the beast away. These traditions are still carried out to this day and it is why the money packets are red and thought to drive away evil.
It is common for friends and relatives to give gifts to each other on Chinese New Year, especially if they are visiting someone else's house. These gifts are usually small and are most likely to be food based. Common gifts include chocolates, sweets, oranges, cakes and biscuits.
Businesses are expected to pay off all their debts before the New Year begins, but these debts aren't just financial, they also extend to debts of gratitude. For this reason, it is not unusual for people to send gifts to close business associates and extended family members at this time of year.
The Chinese New Year is all about wishing people the best for the year ahead and what better way to do that than to send someone a small gift. You might be thanking someone for all they did in the previous year or you might just be wishing wealth upon them. Either way, have a happy New Year!