As a kid, three of my favorite days of the year were my birthday (naturally), Christmas and Chinese New Year. The one thing all three of these days had in common was that I would get red pockets from my elders. Sure, the more “Western” relatives could give me actual gifts on my birthday and Christmas, but come Chinese New Year, it’d be raining “lai see” or “hong bao.”
And these beautiful little red pockets would contain cash that I could then spend at the arcade… if my parents didn’t swipe them out from under me to put in my “college fund.”
Chinese New Year comes with a lot of different superstitions and traditions and these can vary considerably between the different regions and cultures in China. For me, Chinese New Year meant attending numerous family dinners, ensuring that my hair was cut in the couple of days leading up to New Year’s Day, and going to at least one of the fairs, festivals or events happening around town to celebrate the occasion.
For me, Chinese New Year has changed a lot these last few years. I went from the “kid” receiving the red pockets from my elders to the married guy who was obligated to give red pockets to my younger relatives. And now, I get to receive red pockets once again, though now it’s on the behalf of my baby daughter. Funny how that works.
I guess I’ll have to start her college fund too.