So there is a tradition in China: Elder generations will give lucky money to younger generations during the Chinese Lunar New Year. The reason why parents choose to give their offspring lucky money come from a story as follows:
A long time ago, there was a monster named “Sui.” It came out every New Year’s Eve to touch little children’s heads when they were in deep sleep. Whoever being touched would had a fever the next morning, and would become idiots when the fever had gone…
There was a family who got their only son in their late years. So both of the parents loved their son a lot and were afraid that “Sui” would came to their son on New Year’s Eve. On New Year’s Eve, in order to prevent “Sui” from coming to their house, parents decided to play with their son till very late. They gave their son a piece of red paper and eight coins to play with. The boy wrapped the coins and unwrapped them, until he was tired and went to sleep. Later that night, “Sui” came to their house eventually. Wind blew out the candle, and “Sui” was about to touch on their son’s head. The moment when “Sui” extended its arm, the bronze coins in the red paper shone with brilliant light, and “Sui” was so scared that it escaped out of the house faster than the light. Other villagers learned the story, and they chose to follow the same thing that the family had done. No single child was touched by “Sui” and got fever thereafter, and that’s why Chinese people now still keep the tradition to give their children “Ya Sui Qian”–literally meaning the money to prevent “Sui” from coming during the Chinese New Year, which is also called “lucky money.”
How did you come across this folklore: “When I was in the elementary school, my Chinese teacher tried to explain what “Sui” means in Chinese, which means “one year.” Then she expanded the word with some phrases and Chinese traditions to help us better understand the meaning.”
Other information: “And this story was part of her explanation of “Sui” –marks one year in the Chinese lunar calendar with all kinds of related folklore.”
Lucky money is clearly a protective measure… in this story used by parents to prevent their children from becoming idiots. But as a whole, this story also represents the way that one word (“Sui”) can encapsulate not just a direct translation, but an entire story and is strongly tied to a tradition.