My mom friend Stella who is Chinese explains the ins and outs of Chinese Red Envelope etiquette and significance to 2nd grade kids. We did a special presentation as part of their 2nd grade China Unit that included: the Chinese invention of paper money, red envelope craft and background, Chinese silk children’s clothes, and Chinese money. It was a lot of fun!
Chinese Red Envelope Facts and Trivia
Red envelopes are used to give gifts of money. When I was a little kid, I would get red envelopes from older relatives on holidays, my birthday, or if I hadn’t seen someone for a long time. When I got older, I also got red envelopes when I graduated from school, when I got married and even when my grandfather passed away.
For Chinese New Year, only married people give red envelopes away to children and young single people (one of the downsides of getting married!). The more money you give away, the more luck you will have for the new year.
Chinese are very superstitious. Even numbers are thought to be better luck than odd numbers so for better luck, a person would give someone two red envelopes instead of one. 4 is a bad luck number so you never want to give amounts of 4 like $4, $40, $44 and so on. The number four in Chinese sounds like the word for die/death. What’s another example of a bad luck amount??
8 is the luckiest number so if you want to give someone $8 you would put $5 in one envelope and $3 in another or whatever combination you like but not $4 and $4! The number 8 in Chinese sounds like the word for wealthy. Read more…