Kung Hei Fat Choi! It’s Chinese New Year and rawr… it’s the Year of the Tiger. I’m a tiger so it’s my year – and I went to the temple today to do a few bows for the gods just to make sure (more of that later).
CNY has many benefits – three-day public holiday, free spectacular fireworks show and the custom of lai see. Oh, lai see, how I love you. Also known as red packets, these little envelopes of money are given to you (traditionally, if you’re young and unmarried) by relatives, employers and even randomers to usher in good fortune for the coming year. [To emphasise my randomer point, my auntie today gave one to a waiter and last year, I was given one by a lovely little old lady who I’d only ever seen in the lift to our flat – still not had any luck tracking her down this year!]
Having never received pocket money as a child, teenager or indeed adult, the combination of birthday (November), Christmas (December) and CNY (January/February) money would often have to tide me over the whole year!
Traditionally, as the name “red packet” suggests, these should be red as that’s the lucky colour in Chinese custom. But Asia being Asia, nowadays you can get them in any colour that features on Joseph’s Dreamcoat and even with Hello Kitty and her pals on (then again, what can’t you get with Hello Kitty on here?!). You know my penchant for pretty things… these red packets my auntie and I spotted at the Flower Market (another Chinese custom… more of that later) were tooooooo cute. They’re shimmery, they have colourful cute tigers on (or cute children dressed as colourful tigers) and of course, I’ve dark-holed one of each for keeps for me to stroke before my auntie went gleefully red-packeting.