Chinese New Year and Hung Bao

“I’ve never been over there for New Years, but I know that Chinese New Year is really big there, like Hong Kong shuts down for a week. There are specific foods like Nian gao, which is this sticky rice paste cake. The main color is red so people will wear red traditional clothes and there are things like red pockets or hung bao. Your aunts and uncles give you money in a red envelope for good luck and good fortune. Then, there’s of course a lot of eating, family and friends. My family is pretty westernized so we don’t really do  all that. I live in Canada, and my mom and her sisters all moved there from China so whatever I learned is from them.”

Red is a very positive color in China, and it symbolizes happiness, joy and good fortune. The red pockets are a way to spread that emotion and success in China. Of course, this is best spread through your family, which is more important than the individual is  in China. It is important too how the informant knows these customs through her family and not by experience; immigrants usually want to spread the traditions of the old land to their children of the new land to maintain that heritage and identity.