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Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Red Envelope

“One of my favorite holidays growing up was Chinese New Year because I got a lot of red envelopes.”

The informant was born in the United States, but her family moved from China and celebrated Chinese holidays.

After thoughts: In China and other East Asian countries, a red envelope (“hong boa”) is a gift given during any special occasions. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is also a symbol to chase off evil spirits. Red envelopes are usually given out by married couples to single people regardless of age. The amount of money in the envelope usually ends with an even digit because according to Chinese beliefs, odd numbered money gifts are usually associated with funerals. The origins of the red envelope started during the Qin Dynasty, where the elderly would thread coins with a red string. The money was referred to as “money warding off evil spirits” and was also believed to protect the younger generation from sickness and death.

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