Everything about China and it's culture

Everything about China and it's culture

Hong Bao

In China it’s common to give money as a gift on certain occasions, for instance on Chinese New Year, for birthdays and at weddings, though it’s certainly acceptable on other occasions as well. But, one cannot simply fork over a few bills. There is an etiquette to giving money in China.

Money is traditionally given in hong bao, or red packets. These red envelopes are especially popular on New Year’s and at Weddings, but they’re not exclusive to these occasions. Any time you give money a hong bao is the best way to present it. In addition, it’s best to give new bills. Though no one will take offense if you give old bills, crisp, new bills are considered better for gifts.

Aside from happy occasions, it’s common to give cash at funerals in China as well. However, how cash is given differs on these two occasions. On happy occasions, cash is given in even numbered amounts; for funerals it’s given in odd numbered amounts. Note that 10 is still considered an odd amount in this reckoning, because it contains the number 1, an odd number.

In addition, it’s prudent to pay attention to considerations of lucky numbers when deciding how much to give. 4 is a very unlucky number in Chinese, so it’s best to avoid amounts with the number 4 in them. In contrast 8 and 6 are both very lucky numbers.

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