While there’s no hard and fast rule in Ang Bao giving, we’ve come up with a guide to help (e-Ang Bao or not), so at the very least, you’ll avoid ghastly faux pas and have a slightly less stressful Chinese New Year.
Premise Behind Ang Bao Giving
Ang Baos, or red packets, are traditionally given for good luck and are symbols of prosperity.
While the most obvious aspect of prosperity is financial wealth, it also includes prosperity in health, well-being, success in career and studies, just to name a few.
Who Has to Give Ang Baos?
Generally, Ang Baos are given by the married (or formally married) to the unmarried.
So for those who are experiencing this Chinese New Year as a newly married couple, yes you’ll need to give Ang Bao (can’t run away), but traditionally, you can still receive Ang Baos too this year (And we’ll bet your relatives will punctuate their Ang Baos to you with a “This year last one already ahhh!”). But if you’re lucky, some of your generous Aunties and Uncles might still lovingly give you Ang Baos even though you’re grown and married.
Besides giving to the unmarried, it may also be customary in some families for married children to give their parents (and for some, even grandparents) Ang Baos, with wishes of good health and happiness.
How Much to Give?
Each family has its own “market rate” but here’s what we would suggest as a general guide:
We’ve included “random children” above as it is also customary for married adults to give Ang Baos to other peoples’ unmarried children whilst visiting. Even though there are less chances of that happening this year (thanks, COVID-19 restrictions), it’s best to be prepared.
How About the $4 Ang Bao?
Giving a $4 Ang Bao might be controversial at best because the number “4” sounds like the word “death” in the Chinese language. Although not everyone cares about this, especially those in the younger generation, (and because money is money), it might be wise to side-step this potential mine to avoid causing any unintentional unhappiness.
How About Service Providers?
While there are some service providers who will unashamedly and deliberately price in their own Ang Baos in their typically inflated prices during the Chinese New Year period (them nails!), there may be some service providers whom you may wish to bestow Ang Baos and good wishes upon like domestic helpers and the hardworking people who clear our garbage and clean our streets to thank them for their service.