Lunar New Year in Vietnam (also known as Vietnamese New Year, Tet Holiday or Tet) is the most important holiday of a year of Vietnam people. Tet Holiday lasts from the 1st to the 3rd of January of the lunar calendar. These days take place many customs. One of them is giving red pockets (also known as lucky money packets, li-xi pockets, bao lì xì).
The red pocket symbolizes good luck. The red pocket giver wants the recipients to have good luck throughout the year. Giving the red pocket shows the kindness of the giver. The objects given the red pocket are usually children, the elder, workers, helpers. They always have a respectful and cheerful attitude when receiving a red pocket. Giving the red pocket makes the love between the giver and the receiver more attached.
Legend told that in the past, there were demons that usually rubbed children’s heads whenever they slept on New Year’s Eve. When waking up, they became sick and fuss to their parents. A couple gave birth to a cute son on the occasion of the beginning of the year. At that time, there were 8 fairies traveling over the earth. They knew that the baby was about to be harmed by a demon. They turned into 8 small coins and were beside the baby. His parents wrapped 8 small coins with red paper and put under the pillow when he slept. when the demon was about to harm the baby, suddenly under his pillow emitted 8 lights that scared the demon to flee. Since then the villagers consider wrapping small coins with red paper a good way to protect the children on New Year’s Eve. That has been passed down from the generation to the other and has become the tradition.
Pocket to wrap lucky money
The pocket to wrap traditional lucky money has a background red which symbolizes good luck. On it, there are wishes such as “Happy New Year”, “Everything as Wish”, and the symbolic images of Tet such as apricot blossom, peach blossom, watermelon, square glutinous rice cake, five-fruit tray, all usually having yellow which symbolizes prosperity. In recent years, there have been more and more pockets with different designs, colors, patterns, suitable for each person’s hoppy.
The amount of lucky money is symbolic, not much needed, currently (2020) for children VND 50,000 or VND 100,000 is okay, for adults about VND 200,000 or VND 500,000 is okay. The lucky money must be new and arranged and put in the bag neatly.
How to give the red pocket
The ancients used to say, “The way to give is more important than the gift to give.” When giving li-xi money to any object, the giver needs to have an attitude of love and respect. Before giving, the giver usually has good wishes. Depending on the subject, the giver has appropriate wishes.
The custom giving the lucky money packets is not only done on Tet holidays but also on important ceremonies in human life such as full month ceremony, the first birthday, wedding or major national holidays such as National Day, New Year’s Day of the solar calendar. The custom giving red pockets is not only carried out in Vietnam but also in East Asian countries. This is a good custom need maintaining.