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Monday, February 8, 2016

The 4 Rules for Giving Away Money - Chinese Red Pocket

If you know what a red pocket is (利事 "Lai See" in Cantonese and 紅包 "Hong Bao" in Mandarin), you either love it or hate it.

If you are on the receiving end you probably love it but if you are on the giving end you probably hate it. If you are giving, the only perk is you don't have to rack your brain for a nice gift. A red pocket is pretty straightforward: Money inside a RED envelope.

This post is going to look at some of the rules that govern the give and take that is the red envelope:

General Rule #1:
Receivers: Children (and not just your own), Unmarried Adult Friend and Families
Givers: Married Couples (gives two) and Widows (gives one)

General Rule #2:
Receivers: Guests of Honor at Special Occasions (Weddings, Birthdays, Going Away, Travel)
Givers: Attendees of these Special Occasions

General Rule #3:
Receivers: The Worker
Givers: The Boss

General Rule #4
Receivers: People who provide you with service (Doorman, Maid, Lion Dancers, etc)
Givers: You

So now you are armed with the general rules of engagement, so do what you need to do to navigate this fun yet sometimes painful Chinese tradition!

Learn Chinese (I always see this on fortune cookies):

恭喜發財,利是逗來 (Gong Hay Faat Choy, Lai See Dou Loi)

Translation: Be Prosperous and Happy give me my money! (that's what those Chinese characters say)

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