According to legend a monster known as Sui appeared on New Year's Eve with the intent of harming children. A sleeping child who was touched by this monster would develop a fever and become very sick.
However it was said that when their parents prayed sincerely, God sent eight guards disguised as coins to protect them. So people threaded eight coins on red string and placed them under the children's pillows. This became an annual custom and the monster Sui no longer came near.
As the Chinese Character Year (岁suì) has the same pronunciation with the monster's name (祟Suì), the people called the coins Ya Sui Qian, meaning “lucky money warding off the evil spirit”. As time passed, paper notes replaced the coins and the envelope replaced the thread.
The Red packet is a red envelope with money in it, which ranges from one to a few thousand Chinese Yuan. Usually the red racket is given by adults, especially married couples, and elderly to young children in the New Year days. It was believed that the money in the red packet will suppress the evil from the children, keep them healthy, and give them a long life.
When you receive a red packet, first you should say thanks and express your blessing to the donor. It is impolite to open the envelope immediately and check the amount in front of them, which reverses the etiquette in western countries where gifts are opened before the givers.
People will feel embarrassed if you do that. When you have New Year visitors, they may give you the lucky money but you should not give your packet to them at once. It is more like an exchange, but not a way of sharing.
These and other Traditional Chinese practices all form part of TCM, each adding a little to the history and methodology of Acupuncture and Herbs.
Eca Brady is a fully licensed physician of Chinese Medicine BSc(Ac) MBAcC PGDip(CHM), practicing from Harley Street, London. Make an appointment for an acupuncture treatment and we can discuss how we can help you, to read more about Eca click here.