In Chinese culture, that's the only year that matters. In fact, my grandmother can't even tell you her exact birthday since she counts it on the lunar cycle rather than the traditional calendar. Much like the traditional new year, our family celebrates on the eve of the new year.
Although I'm sure there were fantastic parades and festivals around Vancouver, our family simply gathers at my grandmother's house for a home cooked meal and of course the exchange of the lucky red envelopes.
As you may know, although I am half Chinese, I don't speak Chinese and as such my knowledge of Chinese culture and traditions is minimal, though I have travelled to China three times, including my most recent trip when the boy was only 8 months old.
When I was young, red envelopes were a cause for celebration; married relatives must provide the unmarried children with cash filled lucky envelopes. As far as I know, there are only a few simple rules.
- Each adult must provide each child with a lucky envelope, couples may not give a single envelope.
- All envelopes must be received with two hands, accompanied by the appropriate thanks, dough-ja in Cantonese.
- One must NOT open their envelopes and count their money until they are in the privacy of their own home, to open them when received is simply rude.
- Lucky money must NOT be spent on bills, groceries or other household expenses. It is meant to be enjoyed, so its a perfect excuse to splurge on something unnecessary.
Although I'm a day late, I want to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
GUNG HAY FAT CHOY