The legend of Chinese red envelopes and its evolution
  • 17 Apr 2017

Chinese traditional sense of the red envelope is also called New Year's money, is the Lunar New Year when the elders to the children wrapped in red paper money. In Chinese Cantonese district red envelopes are called Lishi, is a small gift made of money placed in red envelope. With the evolution of society, the form of red envelopes has gradually changed.

On the origin of lucky money, there are a lot of argument, there is a very wide spread of the story. In ancient times, there is a kind of demon called "trouble", New Year's Eve out of hand to sleep asleep the child's head, the child is often scared to cry, then headache fever, become a fool. Therefore, every family in the light of the lights sitting do not sleep, called "guarding". There is a couple old child child, as darling baby. To the thirty night, they are afraid of "trouble" to harm the child, took out eight coins with the children to play. The children play tired and fell asleep, they put eight coins wrapped in red paper on the child's pillow below, the couple could not sleep together. In the middle of the night a burst of wind blowing the door, blowing out the lights, "just" just to reach out to touch the child's head, pillow side burst out of the road flash, scared "trouble" to escape. The next day, the couple took the red paper wrapped eight coins scare off "trouble" thing told everyone, after we learn to do, the child was flat without incident.

Thus, people call this money "pressure money", but also because of "trouble" and "year" homophonic, with the passage of time is called "lucky money". Of course, there are many other legend about the New Year's money, mostly the same: to the child's lucky money to bribe or disperse the demons and ghosts in order to expect peace.

As for the form of lucky money, there are two main in ancient times, one is made of colored rope piercing dragon-shaped, placed in the foot of the bed, this record found in the "Yanjing years when the mind": "to wear the money, Shaped, placed in bed feet, that the old money. The other is the most common, that is, by the parents wrapped in red paper to the child's money. New Year's money can be rewarded in the evening after the New Year's Eve, but also in New Year's Eve children asleep, by the parents quietly placed under the pillow of the child.

Historically, the earliest New Year's money appeared in the Han Dynasty. This money is not the currency in circulation, is to wear and enjoy the shape of the coin shape of the evil products. Some of the positive cast coins on the text and a variety of auspicious words, such as "thousands of years old", "the world peace", "to add to the fierce"; the back cast a variety of designs, such as dragon and phoenix, tortoise, Sword, stars and so on.

To the Song and Yuan Dynasties, the lucky money which was put in Ang Pow Packet Envelopes is mostly used to give children with red rope string. After the Republic of China, it evolved into a red paper wrapped in a hundred bronze yuan, its meaning as "longevity", to the adult late New Year's money, red paper bag is a ocean, a symbol of "rich resources", " A million profit. " Money to banknotes, the parents like to use the number associated with the new banknotes given to the children, because the "association" and "even" link, indicates that future generations ""Make money again and again"", "Repeatedly promoted."

New China just set up, this time if the blessing can receive 100 lucky money, it will be able to buy two sugar ball, because at that time 100 with today's 1 point almost. After the fifties coin reform, the New Year's money then also began to five points, a hair to give - have to knock back for a respectful figure was taken. However, it will be very happy.

60 years of market up, also 0.2 yuan, 0.5 yuan, the money a hand, you will buy a small book, small artillery, popcorn. Seventies New Year kowtow of the children, received a five pieces of ten years of money is not a problem. More than eighty years of money, but not too happy to the New Year's money - usually pocket money to the New Year's money to go down.

Since the nineties so far, the child into a rare thing, the body can not move to be able to get hundreds of pieces - but the hands of the clutching of the less, and some father and mother escrow, and some Bank, and there is the Internet to play the game. Most of the family's "red envelope" is basically the money "a circle", in fact, the last or in the hands of parents.

In addition to the younger generation of children, there is a real lucky money, is the younger generation to the elderly, intended to look forward to the elderly longevity.

Development to the present, the red envelope has become popular by the pressure for a custom. Because the red symbol of good luck, so, every marriage, a newborn, living a new house,  birthday and so on ... ... Will be given red envelopes. So happy, of course. Another example is to give ,priests, monks and nuns, bearers, trumpeter, driver, lady and others made a red envelope, used to call "flower color", today renamed "tip", is rewarding others hard, beyond reproach.

Start-up Lishi is to start red envelopes. It is a custom in Guangdong, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other regions . Generally after the Spring Festival, the company re-start the day, all employees and subordinates to the business owners New Year, business owners to employees and subordinates to send red envelopes, built 8 yuan, 18 yuan and other symbolic auspicious number of banknotes to make everyone happy , Bustling, a symbol of starting a big deal, business is booming.

Originally Chinese New year red envelopes purely sincere, no trade dirt. But from the late 70s of last century, the atmosphere of the gift, red envelopes gradually sour, from the original celebration of pressure extended to help, thanks to the range from their own, relatives and friends extended to many industries, red envelopes also gradually have a "market" to become The usual use of corruption. Bribery party to give each other red envelopes, as a service of the reward, grant not only tacit, and "on the amount of measurement", "by quality bargain", this red bag will have a bribe color, red envelopes are naked aside Red paper bag veil, big envelope, kraft paper bag, cigarette holder, pastry box and so have become alienated red envelope.


With the development of science and technology, "electronic red envelopes" and "network red envelopes" began to pop up, the first bank to send the "electronic red envelopes" business, this red envelope do not meet each other, do not have to win the consent of each other, You can send a red envelope to each other's account, and there is no physical to see people, basically do the "God knows, know, you know, I know, others who do not know." Today, the major network of third-party platforms and electricity companies have also launched a "network red envelope", play the law is also different, has become a new custom.

It is not only in mainland China, but also in Taiwan and Hong Kong. It can be said that there is a similar phenomenon in East Asia: there is a tradition of red envelopes in Vietnam; in Japan, parents will send "お年玉" to children, but is a white envelope In Malaysia, the traditional Malay people will send a green envelope to the friends, which is generally considered to be a combination of Islamic culture and red envelopes.

In recent years, the domestic red envelopes of the "gold content" is known throughout the year, red envelopes that had a good traditional Chinese New Year custom, but now more and more people become festive people's feelings. Every Friday, the National Day, the Spring Festival and other big festivals, wedding gifts, elders night shift of the New Year's money, human gifts are white-collar workers who address him "can not afford to hurt", the festival has become a real "red robbery."

Western countries in the holidays when the general gift-based, European and American festivals are mostly not "expensive" to win, and "carefully" known. Do not care about the price, but whether it is carefully selected. The gifts include scarves, ties, underwear, wallets, belts, candy, red wine, bestseller, electronic toys, coffee, microwave bowl, small crafts, beauty and cosmetics, and so forth. But in any case, gifts are to  express a mind, sending a blessing.

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