Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Significance of Hong Bao

Sample Hong Bao 1

Sample Hong Bao 2

On the 1st day of Chinese New Year, children will be most happy because they will receive hong bao in Mandarin or ang pau in Hokkein. A hong bao is actually a red packet containing money.

Why do parents give hong bao to their children?

Well, hang bao was known as ya sui qian or money to suppress evil. According to legend, the Chinese in China was once attacked by a fierce animal known as nian. It usually came on the first moon of the lunar calendar. One year, the animal which was scared of the colour red and din came again. The villagers quickly painted their houses red and made a lot of noise by beating drums and other things. Nian ran away on seeing red houses and hearing the loud sound. It never frequented them again after that. Since then, the Chinese celebrated Xin Nian (New Year) on Day 1 of the first moon according to the lunar calendar.

Hence the red packet given to children is to scare away evil like the nian which is afraid of red. This is the main aim of putting hong bao under the pillows of children on the eve of Chinese New Year, that is to help them ward off evil.

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