Lunar New Year 2021 – Connection through gifts!
Part 2 of a CulturalPulse 5-part series on Lunar New Year highlights the importance of gift giving.
The Lego Group have released its Chinese and Lunar New Year video. This is one of our favourites that shows both the value of gift giving.
Part 2 – Connection through Gifts
China has an ancient gifting culture based on two cultural pillars: Songli – the direct exchange of gifts for a personal favour or influence and Suili – following others in giving a gift for personal milestones such as birthdays.
One significant element of Lunar New Year is the significance of the ‘red packet’ as a traditional gift given to children and young adults during the 15 day of celebrations.
The ‘red packet’ or ‘hongbao’ in Chinese language, is a popular monetary gift given in red envelopes to younger friends and family on Lunar New Year.
Red is considered an auspicious colour and represents luck, energy, and brightness and in Chinese tradition.
It was also believed to protect against evil. As time went by, ‘hongbao’ became more of a symbol of best wishes and blessings for children by elders in the family typically grandparents, parents and older relatives.
We asked some CulturalPulse Community Ambassadors from Chinese communities across Australia for their favourite ‘red packet’ memories.
For Michael Deng, Chairman of Australian Chinese Sports Club, giving and receiving money is part of the family traditions and bonding with family:
“As a young child, it was always an honour to receive a red packet from older family members usually your grandparent’s, your parents and older relatives. It was always exciting to receive it from them and it naturally placed a value on that money. And it depends on who is giving the red packet. It could be a small amount or large amount.”
“As you grow older you then pass that tradition onto the younger family members.” He adds.
Ted Fong, President of the Gold Coast Chinese Club and one of the early founders of ‘Chinatown’ on the Gold Coast, believes that when you are giving money, just like a physical gift, the money in the red packet is passed with love:
“It’s very important that when you are wishing family members good health and good fortune and you are handing over a red packet, you say ‘Kung Hei Fat Choy’ and you wish this to them personally.”
Cecil Huang from the 1688 Media Group in Melbourne notes that this year will be the first ‘virtual reunion’ for families and in some cases personally giving a red packet may not be possible:
“Red envelope giving is a traditional gesture that symbolises good luck and is a symbol to ward off evil spirits. By saying ‘Kung Hei Fat Choy’, it is a common wishing of prosperity, literally translating to ‘wishing you enlarge your wealth’. During these challenging times, more and more people are sending virtual red packets to family members through digital platforms like ‘wechat’.
According to Huang, the Australian style pronunciation of ‘Kung Hei Fat Choy’ is actually Cantonese and not Mandarin. This is due to the large migration of people from Hong Kong in the early 90’s hence this was commonly used. In Mandarin, it is pronounced ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’.
Check out The Lego Groups Chinese New Year video directed by Danny AhBoy that highlights the importance of gift giving.
- Lunar New Year – Part 1 – Its a Family Affair
- Lunar New Year – Part 3 – Food is Heaven
- Lunar New Year – Part 4 – Its lion and dragon dragon dancing
Lunar New Year is one of the largest festivals in the world, spanning 15-days and celebrated in China, South Korea, Vietnam and in East Asian diaspora communities across the world.
Keen to learn more or reach the 1.4 million strong Chinese community in Australia or other Asian markets in Australia? Contact our team at [email protected]