The relevance of CNY

Jes 6 Comments

Red packets are what most children look forward to every Chinese New Year. For married adults, it's a hole in the pocket but it's not really that big a hole.

For married adults without kids, they usually try to avoid gatherings or 避年.

This is because they will only give out red packets and will not be able to receive any back as usually red packets will only be given to unmarried people. I know this is true for Hokkien families. For Teochew families, they will still hand out red packets regardless of your marital status. Just as long as you are their junior, they will have to distribute the wealth to you every year.

I have a friend who locks himself out every Chinese New Year. No visiting, no inviting people to his house just because he has no kids. I don't understand how he can proudly announce to everyone that he will not open his door to anyone who knocks, because I feel that it's quite a shameful thing to do.

You are announcing that you are being anti-social just to save a couple of hundred bucks.

Isn't this placing money on a higher standing than relationships? There is no relevance of Chinese New Year to these people because they are only thinking of their pocket and not the getting together part. Granted, you could get together on any other days (most won't) but Chinese New Year is the best reason to meet your relatives, celebrate, gamble, catch up and have fun. There are 2 days of public holiday just for that!

For me, I think to be able to give out wealth is a show of generosity and sharing and even giving back. After all, you have taken red packets for so many years. My friend is in the management level and is definitely not poor but definitely not generous. I don't think it's a matter of how wealthy you are, but rather how much you are willing to give away.

My respect for him dropped a few notches after his proclamation every year on being anti-social. Maybe I am being too harsh. Maybe I am a social butterfly who can't understand this behaviour. Whatever the case, I would rather spend a thousand bucks on red packets than be like him.


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  1. Hi Jes

    Gathering is great. I actually thought you going to discuss about why CNY is just a tradition and it don't carry any value in giving angbao. People are getting practical and colder.

    The value should be the relationship, not the angbao to begin with.

    1. Hi FD,

      Maybe it's just me but giving angbao is fun. The little kids will have creative ways to do those CNY greetings while the adults can personally give well wishes to each individual. Saving this small amount of angbao money is not going to make us rich la, haha.

      Yeah, priority should always be on relationships and not money. Seems like people are conveniently forgetting this. Thanks for dropping by!

    2. Actually, think about it, it could encourage materialistic behaviours, because we only do those things we should do on a more regular basis when there is money. We can always talk to the kids, involve them, guide them. Ok, i know it may seem cute for little ones to do the greeting but how many relatives only will appear once a year in your life? Worth the "fake relationship"? Those closer ones of course are great to have more bonding. haha.

      But to save the money to avoid CNY celebration is extreme. Although it may not be the best tradition, but it can be fun and heartwarming to meet up with extended family and friends. I actually think there should be CNY every month, but minus off the angbao. Maybe $2 each month for each one still ok if it is so regular. Like pocket money. There is no perfect tradition, if there is, there will not be strawberry generation, durian generation, and what else.

    3. Hi FD,

      Haha I would fully support having CNY every month so I could have more fun! However, that might be too taxing especially for those who reside abroad and could only go back home annually.

      That's why for the closer relatives, perhaps you will give out higher amount for angbao compared to the not so close relatives. We also tag an amount of money to it!

  2. Hi Jes,

    Words are still words! Eventually in today's society money do facilitate the bridging of relationships.

    I love to give Ang pow out to some of my closer elderly as that is a way of showing respect to them.

    No matter how we deny money is not impt, when u receive an Ang pow of bigger sum with respect to the giver's financial ability, u still feel touch n good right?

    1. Hi Rolf,

      You are right! I do feel good when people give me more angbao money but I don't remember who give how much because there is just too many, haha!

      I think most people will tend to remember who is the more stingy one, it sticks out more. So the givers would be more cautious in not losing face!