Chinese Red Envelopes

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
A photo of five different red envelopes.
A photo of five different red envelopes.

     Red envelopes, also known as red packets, are traditional in East and Southeast Asia. They are rectangular in shape and usually contain Chinese characters in gold color on the cover. The interior of red packets holds money (should be no less than five dollars and no more than one hundred bucks for one envelope), and they are given to others during special occasions and holidays such as Chinese New Year, weddings, and/or the birth or graduation of a family member. Red packets are red because, in Chinese culture, the color is known to bring happiness and good fortune. Every Chinese New Year, my parents would give me two packets, both containing one hundred dollars. I am thankful because it brings euphoria and also due to the fact that it is currently my only source of income. 
     The history of my family derived from Asia. My mother immigrated from Malaysia and landed in Boston while my father came over from China, arriving in New York. My family’s story is unique since they originated from two different countries with very different backgrounds. Nonetheless, this did not prevent them from getting married. The story of my parents connects to other family stories as they both sought a place where freedom is indivisible.

Place(s): East and Southeast Asia, Malaysia, China, Boston, New York

– IY

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant