hong bao tradition

5 Fascinating Hong Bao Traditions You Can’t Miss This CNY

Hong bao, or red envelopes, have been a part of Chinese culture for centuries and are still a significant part of Chinese New Year. During this festive period, giving and receiving hong bao is customary as gifts.

This tradition is steeped in symbolism and meaning. For example, giving and receiving hong bao symbolizes good luck and prosperity for the recipient. In addition, Hong bao giving is a wonderful way to show appreciation for family members, friends, colleagues, or even strangers at this particular time of year.

However, with the rise of social media, more people can now experience this traditional custom online through digital hong bao giving services. Nevertheless, it is good to know the tradition and significance of giving Hong Bao for good luck.

1. Should I Give Even or Odd Amounts in Hong Bao?

According to Chinese customs, the money placed inside the Hong Bao should always be an even number to bring good fortune. Therefore, you should only give even numbered amounts of cash inside a red packet on a joyous occasion like Chinese New Year, a wedding or a birthday. It would be better if it could end with an eight, such as 118, 188 or 168.

In addition, many also believe that even numbers represent balance and harmony in the house, hence why Hong Bao needs to contain even numbers of dollars.

On the other hand, avoid giving hong bao because it signifies death, and people only give the odd amount as “white gold” at the funeral.

2. Must I Use Brand New Dollar Notes?

Packing your Hong Bao with brand-new dollar notes is a great way to add a special touch to your Chinese New Year celebration. Not only are they eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing, but they also symbolize a new beginning, good luck and wealth.

Not only will it bring a smile to the recipient’s face, but it will also be an unforgettable gesture that will make them feel special this festive season.

hong bao giving


3. Can I Use Old Red Packets?

When receiving red envelopes as a gift, one key thing to remember is to avoid using expired ones. Giving red packets symbolise blessing others with good fortune, so using an expired one could bring bad luck instead. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that the red envelope you receive has not been tampered with or damaged.

It might be worse if you use Hong Bao with outdated design, especially those with the Chinese Zodiac Sign of a particular year. This gesture shows that you have no heart to give the blessing.

4. Does The Colour of The Hong Bao Matter?

Red has always been the colour of luck and prosperity in Chinese culture. And what better way to spread good fortune during the New Year than with red hong bao?

These beautiful, traditional packets symbolise good luck and can be used to give money as gifts or just for decoration. Red hong bao is essential to Chinese New Year, so why not use only red hong bao this year?

5. What Are The Gifting Etiquettes for Hong Bao?

The red packet is a treasured part of Chinese culture, and people often give them to mark special occasions. However, when gifting Hong Bao, you must take note of some etiquette.

There is an unspoken etiquette that one should not open the red envelope in front of the giver because people see this action as a sign of disrespect or bad luck.

In addition, be prepared to give out Hong Bao to anyone at any time during the Chinese New Year season as a blessing.



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Traditions & Culture8 Fascinating Hong Bao Traditions You Can’t Miss This CNY