Moms and Dads

Everything You Need To Know About Giving Ang Pao or Ang Pow

Want to know how much to put in that Ang Pao packet for CNY? Here’s what you need to know…

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been celebrating Chinese New Year since you were a kid, or if you’re a CNY newbie. Giving Ang Pao can be tricky business, especially with all the etiquette that comes along with it. Well, worry no more because we’re here to give you the lowdown on giving Ang Pao for Chinese New Year.

Ang Pao Etiquette for Chinese New Year

What is ang pao?

Ang pao or ang pow is the English translation of hóngbāo or red envelope. Inside is usually a monetary gift usually given at family gatherings, social events and special occasions like weddings or graduations and holidays like Chinese New Year. The Chinese use the color red because it symbolizes good luck and wards off evil spirits.

Who can give ang pao?

If you’re married and one of the older people in your group of friends or relatives, then you’ll probably need to give out ang pao. Single people only give ang pao during weddings. And yes, its usually elders who dole out the red packets during Chinese New Year. Also, don’t ever let your children give ang pao.

Who should we give ang pao to?

To anyone who deserves it, really. Your super well-behaved kids, manong guard, your kasambahays, your assistant — it’s up to you.

How much ang pao should we give?

Because ang paos aren’t mandatory (it’s more of a sign of goodwill), the amount you give is up to you. Don’t feel like you need to make it rain during Chinese New Year — it’s the thought that counts.

But really, how much should we give?

There’s no specific amount, but do keep in mind that the amount should end in an even number. Given this, you’ll want to stay away from the number 4 as it’s traditionally associated with death and misfortune. Eight is everyone’s fave lucky number!

How do we give the ang pao?

Always use two hands when you’re distributing packets. Never give or receive it using just one hand. Try not to — actually, dont — check the amount in your ang bao before you give it to the recipient.

Anything else we should know?

If you’re giving out ang pao, we suggest hitting the bank way before CNY if you can for crisp bills. If you’re giving to several groups of people, use different envelopes for different denominations. And please, don’t give out coins.

When you give out or receive an ang pao, acknowledge the gift with a simple “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (Happy New Year) or “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (wishing you an abundance of good fortune).

Now that you’ve got all the rules down pat, it’s time to ring in the New Year. Xin Nian Kuai Le!

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