Chinese Weddings: Hong Bao

Chinese Wedding Hong Bao

S.S is one of my suitemates. We were also friends in high school. She was born in the states but moved to Taiwan for school. Her family is Taiwanese. As an individual, she is really interested in sports, and recently, while in college, she has also become really interested in Christianity. While participating in these many things, she has experienced many traditions that are expressed as folklore.

One other folklore she told me about is a tradition people usually do in the Chinese culture. She explained to me that the guests of a wedding would have to give money the bride and groom. Her parents once gave about 500$ to the bride and groom. S.S was with her parents when this occurrence happened, but she was young, so she didn’t know exactly was going on. It was at a wedding with the bride being S.S’s mother’s childhood friend. She remembered that the wedding was at a restaurant, one at time, near the end of the wedding, each guests would walk up to where the bride and groom were sitting and they would give them the money. The money would have to be in a “hong bao” or a red envelope.  This tradition would need to be done in every wedding, or else it would be an awkward situation for the guest, as they might be the only one without the money.

S.S chose this particular folklore/tradition because she thought that this was an interesting way giving gifts to the bride and groom. She said that this was actually an easy way of giving gifts because if it wasn’t money, then each guests would need to think about what gifts they would need to buy for the couple.  And quoted form S.S, she said that “Money may not be the most meaningful gift, but it is the most useful gift.”

The context of this tradition is the money in the red envelope. This would be the symbolism of sharing the acknowledgment of congratulation someone.  This would also be a polite gesture for the bride and groom. This isn’t just one sided, the parents who give the money to the couple would expect the couple to give money to the parent’s children when they get married. So the money and gift would be reciprocated.

I think that this tradition is a way to acknowledge that the guests are also part of the family. Giving money to the couple could essentially mean that they got the couple back financially, so it’s a way that they can help them if the couple happens to be in trouble. This tradition would also be more prominent in an Asian cultural because I would assume Chinese culture is more prominent in family respect.