It is the year of the Rabbit. That is according to the Chinese calendar. This year I plan on participating in the "Red Envelope" tradition. What a privilege to get to do this! My daughter in law explained it all to me & I looked up the rest. So I decided to share it with you!
Red envelopes are given out during Chinese weddings, Chinese New Year, and other holidays.
What Is a Red Envelope?:
A red envelope (紅包, hóngbāo) is simply a long, narrow, red envelope with money in it. Traditional red envelopes are often decorated with gold Chinese characters like happiness and wealth. Variations of the red envelope include red envelopes with cartoon characters and red envelopes from stores and companies that contain coupons and gift certificates inside.
Unlike a Western greeting card, red envelopes given at Chinese New Year are typically left unsigned. For birthdays or weddings, a short message, typically a four character expression, and signature are optional.
Some four character expressions appropriate for a wedding red envelope are 天作之合 (tiānzuò zhīhé, marriage made in heaven) or 百年好合 (bǎinián hǎo hé, happy union for one hundred years).
Why Are the Envelopes Red and Are There Other Colors?
Red symbolizes luck. Other envelope colors are used for other occasions, for example, white enveloped are used for funerals.
When Are Red Envelopes Given and Who Gets a Red Envelope?
Red envelopes are handed out to younger generations by their parents, grandparents, relatives, and even close neighbors and friends during Chinese New Year. At some companies, workers may also receive a year-end cash bonus tucked inside a red envelope. Red envelopes are also popular gifts for weddings and birthdays.
When giving someone a red envelope, use both hands to present the red envelope to the recipient. Giving and receiving red envelopes, gifts, and even business cards is a solemn act. Therefore, red envelopes, gifts and name cards are always presented with both hands and also received with both hands.
How Much Money Goes Inside the Red Envelope?:
It depends on the situation. There is great debate over how much to give. The amount of money in red envelopes given to children for Chinese New Year depends on age and the giver’s relationship to the child. For younger children, the equivalent of about $7 dollars is fine.
More money is given to older children and teenagers. The amount is usually enough for the child to buy himself his own gift like a T-shirt or DVD. Parents may give the child a more substantial amount since material gifts are usually not given during the holidays.
For all occasions, certain amounts of money are to be avoided. Anything with a four is best avoided because 四 (sì, four) sounds similar to死 (sǐ, death). Even numbers, except four, are better than odd. Eight is a particularly auspicious number. The money inside a red envelope should always be new and crisp. Folding the money or giving dirty or wrinkled bills is in bad taste. Coins and checks are avoided, the former because change is not worth much and the latter because checks are not widely used in Asia.
Taken from source below:
Chinese New Year: Red Envelope
By Lauren Mack, About.com Guide
This is one of the envelopes I made for my kids! How fun!