During the Lunar New Year (Tet), Vietnamese love dressing up to visit relatives and friends as well as exchanging New Year’s wishes. Besides, giving lucky money in a red envelope or “Li xi” is also one of the most expected Tet customs, especially by children. This custom is always preserved and becomes beauty in Vietnamese New Year.
The origin of Lucky Money
There are different myths to explain the genesis of the custom. The most common myth says that once upon a time, there were many gods to protect human life from evil spirits who always wanted to harm people.
Nevertheless, on New Year’s Eve, the gods had to come back to heaven to receive new tasks from the highest deity. The ghosts took that opportunity to go out, rub children’s heads, and make them cry, sick or mad. After that, several gods transformed into coins wrapped in red cloth by parents next to the children. When the ghosts came, the coins suddenly lit up and scared them away.
Therefore, coins covered in red material were imagined to keep children safe from ghosts. The method was soon practiced widely and caused the custom.
The meaning of Lucky Money
Lucky money is a little new cash put in a red envelope. According to tradition, red is used for good luck and represents happiness. It is also supposed to ward off evil spirits. Meanwhile, the money inside is considered a symbol of prosperity.
The significance of lucky money is that it symbolizes good wishes of givers for their loved ones in the new year, not quantity inside.
Giving lucky money during the Lunar New Year is believed fortunate for both donors and recipients. In the past, it was presented just to the children, but now it is given to anyone as a way to express best wishes for the new year.
How to give and receive Lucky Money
Vietnamese often give lucky money to children with New Year’s wishes. Besides, you can also present it to the elderly and other adults.
When wrapping lucky money in red envelopes, always use new paper money, old currency is considered unlucky. With many currency exchange locations in Vietnam, you’ll get easily new money you need. And the amount of money contained in the envelope, of course, depends on you and your specific relationship.
Get lucky money with both hands and do not instantly look inside. It is impolite to open in front of the person who gives it to you. In return, express your good wishes to them.