Giving lucky money is regarded as one of Vietnam’s most interesting cultural practices. It has become an integral part of the Tet holiday and is still well-preserved from generation to generation.
The Origin of Lucky Money in Vietnam
Giving lucky money was a custom that originated in China. Years ago, there was a couple who were over 50 years old and had just given birth to a little boy. In that Lunar New Year, 8 fairies visited their house and knew a monster would be coming to hurt him. To protect the boy, the eight fairies transformed into eight coins wrapped in red cloth and laid beside him when he was sleeping. Thanks to these coins, which were the fairies, the boy was safe from the monster.
Read more about Superstitions in Vietnam
The old couple was so thankful that everyone in the village gradually knew about the stories. Since then, when the Lunar New Year comes, people will give children money wrapped in red paper, believing that the money will protect children from harm.
The lucky money envelopes
Besides the folk story above, there are many other stories about the origin of lucky money, and no one knows when this custom was first started in Vietnam.
How Much Lucky Money to Give in Vietnam?
The amount of lucky money you give depends on how close the relationship is. The closer you are, the more money you give. Initially, lucky money is not about the amount of money you give. It is what you wish the other when giving lucky money. However, nowadays, the amount of money is considered one factor that expresses how close you are to the receiver. The range is about VND 200,000 to VND 500,000 (US$ 8.5 to US$ 21) for an intimate relationship and about VND 20,000 to VND 100,000 (US$ 1 to US$ 4.3) for acquaintances.
The amount of money to give depends on how close the relationship is
When and to Whom Should You Give Lucky Money?
The popular time to give lucky money is on the Tet holiday, which lasts 3 days from the first to the third of January in the Lunar calendar. On this occasion, children are the ones who expect to receive lucky money from other members of their family and acquaintances. Depending on the particular practice of each family, lucky money in Vietnam is given to particular people. For some families, the ones who are able to make money by themselves, including children and the elderly, are qualified to receive lucky money. For some families, you can receive lucky money up until you get married.
Giving lucky money in Lunar New Year
Besides the Tet holiday, you can also give lucky money on special occasions when you visit someone’s house. On these occasions, gifts or food can also replace lucky money. The sole purpose is to show your respect and love to the host that you visit.
Other Customs of Lucky Money in Vietnam
There are some practices you should note to yourself when giving lucky money in Vietnam. First, lucky money should be new and put in red envelopes. This practice is because lucky money is often given at the start of a year, so it should be the new money. Red symbolizes luck in Eastern culture, which explains why lucky money is in red envelopes. Secondly, people used only to give money printed in red as a way to wish luck. However, these notes are of low value, so people eventually do not mind the money’s color. Last but not least, accompanied by lucky money should be some wishes for good things such as longevity, wealth, success, health, etc.
Read more about Gift Giving Etiquette in Vietnam
Children wishing grandparents health when giving or receiving lucky money
Summary of How Much Lucky Money to Give in Vietnam
Giving lucky money has become a custom embedded in Vietnamese culture. Its meaning is not only drawn from the amount of money but the good intentions people give each other.