In Chinese and other East and Southeast Asian societies, a red envelope or a red packet (Mandarin: hóngbāo) is a monetary gift which is given during holidays or special occasions such as weddings, graduation or the birth of a baby.
Red envelopes are gifts presented at social and family gatherings such as weddings or holidays such as Chinese New Year. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is a symbol to ward off evil spirits. It is also gifted when a person is visiting as a gesture of kindness for visiting. The act of requesting red packets is normally called tao hongbao (Chinese: 討紅包; pinyin: tǎo hóngbāo)
The amount of money contained in the envelope usually ends with an even digit, in accordance with Chinese beliefs; odd-numbered money gifts are traditionally associated with funerals. The exception being the number 9 as the pronunciation of nine (Chinese: 九) is homophonous to the word long (久) and is the largest digit. Still in some regions of China and in its diaspora community, odd numbers are favored for weddings because they are difficult to divide. There is also a widespread tradition that money should not be given in fours, or the number four should not appear in the amount, such as in 40, 400 and 444, as the pronunciation of the word four (四) is homophonous to the word death (死). When giving money, new bills are normally given instead of crispy or dirty bills. It is common to see long queues outside of banks before Chinese New Year with people waiting to get new dollar bills.
WeChat Red Envelopes
WeChat red envelope (or WeChat red packet) is an online money transfer with a colorful message via WeChat (a messaging app).
In recent years, it has become popular among young people to send “red envelopes” via WeChat as a greeting. It has become a new way to greet friends or relatives during the Chinese New Year period.
On New Year’s Eve, the CCTV Spring Festival Gala attracts people with its wonderful performances and cyber red envelopes. While watching the performances, people have the chance to win cyber red envelopes by shaking their phones ceaselessly.
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