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The Chinese Custom of Giving Lai See Or Little Red Envelopes

Lai See is the Chinese traditional custom of giving a gift of money in a special red envelope or Lai See during special occasions such as the Chinese New Year, birth of a child, marriage, etc.

The combination of the red envelope and money represent good luck and good fortune/prosperity in the coming year as red represents luck and gold represents money/wealth.

The amount of money contained in the envelope usually ends with an even digit, for instance 88 and 168 are both lucky numbers. There is a tradition that money should not be given in fours, or the number four should not appear in the amount, as this signifies bad luck for many Chinese people. At weddings for example, the amount given as a wedding gift is usually intended to cover the cost of the attendees at the wedding as well as a goodwill to the couple getting married i.e. 4 attendees at assumed wedding cost per head of 30 USD, which gives 120 USD in total, but most will choose to give a lucky number amount, so the final amount can be 128, 168 or 188 as examples.

Many believe that good luck will come to both the giver and the recipient of the Lai See.

The Lai See custom also entails older relatives or married couples giving the lai see envelopes to younger family members or unmarried siblings.

Lai See is not a general giving of gifts, but rather a custom in which some people are givers (married people, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, bosses, etc.) and others are recipients (children, single people, employees, etc.).

In countries such as China and Hong Kong, during special occasions, where Lai See custom is very popular, lots of money can exchange hands during this time.

Unlike birthday or Christmas gifts

on which you may write the recipient’s name, it is not the custom with Lai See to put names on the envelope. Furthermore, it is a good idea to have a few extra spare envelopes with money, so that when you run into someone or family unexpectedly, you can give them an envelope and make it look as if you had intended to do so originally, as this shows wealth, generosity and wisdom as well as giving face to you and the recipient which is part of the Chinese culture along with the Lai See custom.



Source by Alan Parker

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