The Chinese Red Envelope

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Story pending

Ever since I was young, I was always curious about the significance of the red envelope“hongbao” or “lucky money.” Having the red envelopes remind me of how my parents grew up and how they brought the tradition to my siblings and me. My father, born in the countryside, adored the Lunar New Year. Though they didn’t have much money to bring to the table, they loved being with family and receiving pocket money. On the other hand, my mother grew up in the city. She wasn’t of poor upbringings but wasn’t of the richest either. Every new year, they would go to relatives saying, “gongxifacai, hongbaonalai”. The money they received was in red packets with gold lettering: the red signified luck and happiness and the gold symbolized good fortune and prosperity. No matter the circumstances from my parents, the view of the hongbao was the same. It brought joy while also spreading what could be seen as a superstitious way of luck and happiness. The red envelopes that appear year-round allows me to connect with my immigrant family members Being surrounded in the language, eating traditional food, celebrating holidays, and being around family inspires me to cherish my culture.

Place(s): China, New York
Year: 1993

– Jocelyn L

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