“Gong xi fa cai hong bao na lai” is something that all of us are familiar with, Chinese New Year has become a festival that us younger peeps look forward to not because of the time we get to spend with our families but instead, because of the ang paos.
But how much is too much? We’ve all had ang paos that we received from someone that we did not expect to contain so little, or even contain nothing at all!
Some might say “eh bad luck leh” to receive an empty ang paos, but the truth is, it’s not! In fact, Dr. Lim Lee Ching, the Vice Dean at the School of Human Development & Social Services at the SIM University in Singapore says that “Giving Hongbao is a gesture – it symbolizes a blessing – and not a transaction, although many Singaporeans seem to think otherwise”.
I know a few Malaysians who might think that way as well.
Although it is possible to give out empty ang paos, the unspoken rule is that family members should receive more compared to friends, as in Chinese tradition the love to a family member and to a friend should be different.
If you don’t know how much to put in the ang paos this Chinese New Year, a general rule of thumb would be to give RM8 to babies, RM 10 – RM20 to kids you know well, RM100 – RM200 for your siblings and RM888 to your parents.
Another idea is for services that you pay for all the time, give one extra payment. Maybe you always head to this barber shop that charges you RM35, the next time you’re there you could bump it up to RM38 or even make it RM88 as 8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture.