Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Meaning of Red Packets

Since it is Chinese New Year, the family has been in the business of giving out red packets or hong baos as the Chinese would call it.

Red packets are supposed to symbolise luck. But even now, I am not sure why do we put money inside the red packets. I guess the kids love to receive some extra cash during the new year.

But for the parents, it can be a little confusing. Questions like:

"Am i giving enough?"

"What if the other parent gives my child a bigger red packet that what I packed for their child? Will that sway them into giving a larger red packet for my child next year just to make up for the difference?"

These are tough questions. Guess i am still a newbie at giving out red packets that's why I am so confused over this chinese tradition. Of course i know it is meant to be just given out in the spirit of good luck and tradition and all.. But a certain part of me says that I need to rationalise how much I am giving out to people. I can't be giving closer relatives the same amount I am giving other distant friends right?

What's more, this red packet thing is a bit sensitive. If I give too little, will I offend someone who also gives my child a larger red packet?

What about relatives who pass to my parents ang bao meant for my child? Am i supposed to give them back ang baos in kind?

What about older cousins who are not married? Do i give them an ang bao. A bit embarrassing wouldn't it be?

Aargh.. too complicated. Perhaps I will just go on a holiday next Chinese New Year =)

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