The Story and History of The Official Chinese New Year Lucky Dollar: C
Our History of Lucky Money During Chinese New Year
In the grand tapestry of Chinese traditions, the practice of giving lucky money during the Chinese New Year is an enduring thread that weaves generations together. This gift giving custom, replete with symbolism and significance, is an integral part of the annual Spring Festival celebrations, highlighting China's rich cultural heritage and deeply rooted system of values.
According to Chinese custom, Lucky Money is given mostly by parents, grandparents and other married couples to young unmarried people such as children, grandchildren and other young friends. The reason being, once a couple is married they are believed to have enough of their own money and can then begin to share their good financial fortune with others rather than continuing to receive.
The Beginning of the Lucky Money Tradition: A Historical Perspective
The story of lucky money, or hóngbāo in Mandarin, begins in the golden era of Chinese antiquity. It was a time when myth and reality seamlessly coalesced, where supernatural beings were believed to roam the earthly realm and philosophical concepts such as the Yin and Yang were established and ingrained in Chinese culture. The term hóngbāo directly translates to 'red envelope', a name derived from the vibrant red packaging which has become a tradition to carry lucky money inside.
During the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), the first lucky money came as a gift from elders who would thread coins with a red string, symbolizing the warding off of evil spirits. Often several coins were strung together with each coin symbolizing a different blessing such as health, happiness, fortune, prosperity and success. This ritual, known as yāsuì qián, was believed to protect the younger generation from the mythological creature, Sui, who was said to terrorize sleeping children on New Year's Eve.
The Mobile Evolution of the Red Envelope
As China progressed into the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), the stringed coins evolved into the first instances of lucky red envelopes. Over time, as paper money was introduced during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), the red envelope containing lucky paper money as we know it today began to take shape.
The tradition of presenting red envelopes remained mostly unchanged until the recent advent of new digital technology, mostly coming in the form of mobile technology. When the 21st century arrived, along eith it came mobile phones and a mobile application revolution. During this time China and many other Easter countries witnessed a digital revolution of the hóngbāo tradition, with apps like WeChat and Alipay introducing digital red envelopes. This new form of giving lucky money has since gained massive popularity, particularly among the younger generation.
Symbolism and Significance: Beyond Monetary Value of Lucky Money
The practice of giving lucky money extends beyond its face monetary value. It’s mostly a gesture of love, respect, and blessings for good fortune and health in the coming year. The color red is also rich in Chinese culture and is associated with energy, happiness, good luck, and is believed to ward off misfortune and evil spirits.
Moreover, the amount of money contained in the red envelope often ends with an even digit, following Chinese beliefs. However, the number '4' is avoided as it sounds like 'death' in Mandarin.
Lucky Money Today: A Modern Take on an Ancient Custom and the Inspiration for Lucky Money on a Real USD Dollar Bill
Today, the tradition of giving lucky money remains as vibrant and revered as ever, albeit with a modern twist. In contemporary China, Taiwan, The Philippines and across other global Asian communities, both physical red envelopes and their digital counterparts are widely exchanged during Chinese New Year celebrations.
A new tradition, inspired by a growing Asian community here in the United States, wanted to make something specifically for a new generation of Asian Americans to have their own hóngbāo tradition, created in the communities they live and grew up in while still honoring and carrying forward the original tradition created in the East. Now today, the Holiday Dollar Bills Company is proud to offer the most unique and memorable version of Chinese New Year Lucky Money and hóngbāo to date. These Lucky Dollars feature a seal of the Chinese Zodiac animals placed on the portrait section of a real USD dollar bill to combine and form one of the most unique real lucky dollar bills to date.
Elders gift hóngbāo to younger family members, bosses to employees, and friends to each other, continuing the cycle of passing on good wishes and blessings for the New Year. This age-old tradition stands as a testament to China's profound respect for history, community, and shared prosperity.