Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Red and White Packets

I was triggered to think about this because I heard of somebody passing away today and somebody else giving the 'Pak Kum'. A direct translation of that is 'white gold' but its not really gold. Its the money that Chinese will give to the family of the deceased, usually in a white envelope.

Anyway, we Chinese give money at almost all occasions. While it is practical and often useful, it sometimes seems like the easy way out to me. After all, it takes time and effort to give a thoughtful gift. Here are the occasions that I can think of where cash is given.

Your Full Moon - One month after you are born. Comes in a red packet with cash known as the Ang Pow.
Each of your birthdays - Your parents will probably get you a present but grandparents/aunts/uncles tend to give you Ang Pow. Peers will give gifts.
Your Wedding - Ang Pows from all guests. This really helps to defray the costs of the celebration. During the tea ceremony, family members sometimes also give jewellery. I have heard of some instances here in Australia where people have also started to ask for cash instead of presents.
Chinese New Year - If you are married, you have to give Ang Pow to any unmarried person you. Once people start working, they also give to their parents and grand parents. I have been paying out for 7 years but in 2008, I'll be collecting! Well, Aaron will be anyway :)
Your Funeral - As mentioned above, people will usually give Pak Kum to the family.

5 comments:

number said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
number said...

Everyone gets to benefit from the money given in all the red packets but not the white ones.

The Curmudgeon said...

It seems like a nice, practical approach: And you never have to return extra blenders or candlesticks... or try and come up with an excuse as to what happened to that hideous lamp Aunt Martha gave you....

Bilbo said...

Many years ago, I was the best man at the wedding of a friend who was marrying an Italian girl. Part of the reception involved the maid of honor and I standing at the side of the dance floor: I held a tray of shots of whiskey, and she wore a large apron which she held up into a bowl shape. The men lined up to dance with the bride, and each first dropped cash into the apron, took a shot of whiskey, and went out to dance. I'd hardly ever seen so much money in one place in my life. When I was married, my friends just gave IOU's.

Evelyn said...

The South Americans (Mexicans I think) have this tradition during the wedding where they pin money to the bride. Great way to make money, but EWWWW...

I wired money to my cousin the other day so that her mom can get the money to pay my other aunt back... who gave the "Pak Kum" to my other aunt on behalf of my parents, my sis and I. Yes, lots of aunts here.

I'm still waiting for a red packet from you. :-D