White gold

One of the joys of Chinese New Year, especially for children is probably receiving red packets. Red packets in Cantonese is lai sze or lai see (利是, 利市 or 利事) while in Mandarin, is hóngbāo (红包). The Hokkiens call them ang pow ( âng-pau) while the Hakkas call them fung bao. The red packets contains money and are normally given to children and unmarried men and women, too by married couples and the elderly. In Malaysia, red packets are sometimes distributed to the poor and elderly by ministers during the festive season. The red packets, of course, as their names imply, are always red in colour. I remember those days when as a kid, I would receive money wrapped in red papers. Nowadays, the red packets have evolved into beautifully printed envelopes. You'd find beautiful  and auspicious designs on them like plum flowers, Chinese dragons and even your favourite cartoon characters like Doraeman, which the Chinese call Xiao Ding Dang (inset). While the traditional red packets are always bright red in colours, nowadays, you'd find pink or golden red packets. Some of the modern red packets have a tinge of other colours- blue, yellow, white even but never, never would you find one which is completely white. Money given in white envelopes is infact a taboo. The money then is known as white gold. White gold is only given during a person's bereavement. When given on festive occasion like Chinese New Year, it could only suggest  the bad intention of  the giver. People who give are definitely not always nice!


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