Chinese New Year and Red Packets

With the Chinese Year of the Rat coming up in a few days, we thought it would be a good idea to review one of the traditions of Chinese New Year: the Red Packet.

In mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and in enclaves of overseas Chinese, you will often see people handing out Red Packets during the first week of Chinese New Year. Red Packets containing money are handed out amongst relatives and sometimes to service people. Generally adults will give red packets to children and also to service people that one might see regularly, such as a guard in your building or a parking lot attendant. In Taiwan, adults who are working may also give Red Packets to their parents. In Hong Kong, married couples will often give red packets to unmarried individuals, even if they are already adults. Service people who you don't see often might receive only a nominal sum, while a grandparent may give a grandchild sums large enough that over time, the money could be used to finance an education.