The Asian often give lucky money to each other in Lunar New Year Days along with the best wishes, so where does this custom come from?
The origin of lucky money
Giving lucky money on New Year Days has existed for thousand years, the origin of this customs was told in many stories and the most popular one is the myth about Eight Great gods. Once upon a time, the people live along the East Sea coast, they gather together, earn for living, live as families and raise the children. However, at that time, there are plenty of monsters that have fierce power attack civilization. Those monsters are captured and under the custody by the gods. Every year when the new year comes, the gods must go to heaven to meet Jade Emperor so that they have to leave the earth without protection. The monsters are free and make disasters, murder, attacks people, panic children and make them startle. The kids are so scared that they get sick.
One night, the Eight Great Gods come by from a house and suddenly see a gosh trying to startle a baby. They decided to turn into 8 coins, lying by the baby, waiting for chance and tell the parents to wrap them in a red fabric. When the gosh come back they use their magic light up the house and kill the it, protect the child.
This magic rapidly spreads out all the country and then become a tradition whenever new year comes. Even when the monster no longer exists in the world and all the gods come back to heaven, this custom keep spreading and enduring until the present time. The elders put money into a red envelopes and give them to children as a new year wish for health, hard-working year.
Another story says that, in ancient time, parents string eight coins together, shape them as a dragon or a sword then hang them on the bed with the aim of banishing ghosts and monsters. As the time goes by, people give the others red envelope with money inside as a wish for wealth and health. Since then, lucky money has become a indispensable custom in the new year days.
Although there are many “variants”, the tradition of giving lucky money is always associated with the desire for abundant health for loved ones.
Tips for giving lucky money in a formal way
For a long time, lucky money became an indispensable custom in the New Year. Giving lucky money is not only in the first day, it lasts for at least 3 first days of the year, some times, it even extends to the 10th day. During this New Year days, perhaps, what children are always waiting and most eager to be is receiving the adults give them a red envelope which contained beautiful coins that make them happier than ever.
Red envelopes bring a lot of deep and beautiful meaning. The red envelopes are symbol of privacy, represents the color of the heart, good fortune, prosperity throughout the year, in addition, it is also considered the color of hope and luck. The person who received the money always believe that these packs would bring happiness and fortune to them until the year-end.
The first morning of the year, the whole family get up early, children cross the arms, bold their heads to parents and grand parents as the respect. Then, the elders smile, give advices for new years and give them lucky in red envelopes.
Lucky money in some countries
Other similar traditions also exist in other countries in Asia. For example, in Thailand, Burma and Cambodia, the Chinese diaspora and immigrants have introduced the culture of red envelopes.
In Cambodia, red envelopes are called Ang Pav or Tae Ea (give Ang Pav). Ang Pav is delivered with best wishes from elder to younger generations. The money amount in Ang Pav makes young children happy and is a most important gift which traditionally reflects the best wishes as a symbol of good luck for the elders. Ang Pav can be presented in the day of Chinese New Year or “Saen Chen”, when relatives gather together. The gift is kept as a worship item in or under the pillowcase, or somewhere else, especially near the bed of young while they are sleeping in New Year time. Gift in Ang Pav can be either money or a cheque, and more or less according to the charity of the donors. The tradition of the delivery of Ang Pav traditionally descended from one generation to another a long time ago. Ang Pav will not be given to some one in family who has got a career, but this person has to, in return, deliver it to their parents and/or their younger children or siblings. At weddings, the amount offered is usually intended to cover the cost of the attendees as well as help the newly married couple.
In Vietnam, red envelopes are considered to be lucky money and are typically given to children. They are generally given by the elders and adults, where a greeting or offering health and longevity is exchanged by the younger generation. Common greetings include “Sống lâu trăm tuổi”, “An khang thịnh vượng” (安康興旺), “Vạn sự như ý” (萬事如意) and Sức khỏe dồi dào, which all relate to the idea of wishes for health.
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