Red Envelope (Hong Bao)

Red, smooth, fortune, rectangular
Red, smooth, fortune, rectangular

At the age of 3, I migrated to America with my family, leaving behind our small village in Fujian, China. While the language was lost, the cherished traditions persevered. A simple yet significant object– a red envelope, bursted with rich traditions of our cultural identity. The crimson treasure is not merely a piece of paper; it is a vessel of stories and a messenger of resilience.
The red envelope, or “hongbao” as we call it, bears the few remaining heritage of my culture. While adapting to life in America was relatively smooth for me, given that I arrived at a young age, my parents faced greater challenges. The initial chapters of our life began at a small house owned by my aunt and uncle, who also provided job opportunities for my parents. Hindered by their unfamiliarity with English, my parents could only help with dishwashing. Despite our evident financial instability, during each Lunar New Year, they still managed to present envelopes to every child in the household. 
Approaching the end of my high school journey, the tradition of the red envelope remained a constant amidst the ever-changing chapters of my life. It became a source of reflection, prompting me to look back on the sacrifices made by my parents and the fortitude required to overcome the arduous journey of migration. The financial struggles we faced early on were replaced by a sense of stability through their hard work, the envelope was a reminder of where we came from and the values that shaped us. 

Place(s): China, America
Year: 2009

– Boxuan Chen

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child