21 Jan Giving Lucky Money during Tet
Tet, or, Lunar New Year, represents the most important holiday of the year in Vietnam. Tet is seen as an opportunity for a new beginning. Debts are settled and old discussions are forgiven. The houses are cleaned and decorated with symbolic flowers. All preparations aimed at ensuring the start of the new year with as much luck and good fortune as possible.
During the Lunar New Year (Tet), Vietnamese love dressing up to visit relatives and friends as well as exchanging New Year’s wishes. Giving lucky money in a red envelope or “Li xi” is also one of the most expected Tet traditions, especially by children, which has been preserved over time and become indispensable in Vietnamese people’s life whenever the Lunar New Year Festival comes.
What is li xi?
Li Xi means “Giving money to welcome the new age on the first day of Lunar New Year”. It is a small amount of money in a red envelope that can bring good fortune to the upcoming year. The red colour signifies prosperity and great luck according to Asian’s beliefs. It is a common practice to decorate an envelope in gold because gold in Vietnamese culture is a symbol of wealth. Those who receive lucky money believe that this red envelope will bring them happiness and wealth all year long. Lucky money must be newly printed money without crumpling or tearing to show your respect to the receivers because the old currency is often considered to be unlucky. Moreover, new money in Tet Holiday is seen as the start of a new year, the start of a new adventure.
How much money to include?
Li Xi money is set to serve a symbolic purpose, so the amount you gift is totally up to you. The amount of money contained in the red envelop depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver. Although these days it is advisable to put around 20 thousand VND if you make a present to a kid younger than 10. For older children, they are supposed to receive about 50 thousand VND, and the amount for adults varies. Today the standard for grown-ups is a sum of about 100 thousand VND, but only ever give what you feel comfortable giving.
Give, give, give
Lucky money should be given during the first few days of the New Year, but it is also possible to give it before and after this time. Though in the old days, only married people are supposed to do this task in the new year because married people were believed to be more successful than single individuals. Nowadays, giving away Li Xi is an act of showing your generosity and wishing the recipients to be lucky throughout the year. So if you want to give a small cash gift to your helper, driver, security guard… go for it.
Extra tips during Tet
Always receive your red envelope with both hands. It is impolite to accept a red envelope with just one hand.
Say “Chuc Mung Nam Moi” with a big smile when you meet someone.
Smile, laugh often and be energetic.