Red Envelopes for Travelers





Before a family member takes a trip, the elders in the family will often give the traveler a red envelope. Inside, in addition to money, the package will also contain pine needles and red flower petals. This wishes the traveler safety and success.




My informant’s extended family lives in China and she remembers this tradition from when she would return to China with her immediate family to visit. Her family that lives in China would always give her and her younger sister each a red envelope with money, pine needles, and red flower petals inside. The red envelope symbolizes a wish of success, prosperity, and happiness on the trip. The pine needles are symbolic because evergreens are said to live forever, so the needles represent a blessing of a safe, accident-free trip. The red flower petals involve, again, the color red. The whole package represents basically a good luck wish for the trip. The informant remembers her parents telling her and her sister that they must keep the red envelope with them throughout the duration of the trip so keep them safe. It always made my informant feel safer having it because she really believed it would keep her from harm.