In observance of the Chinese New Year, each customer that stops in the store from NOW till Sunday, Jan 29th will receive a special red envelope that contains an uplifting quote and/or gift certificate. (while supplies last)
As Thai-Chinese, I grew up celebrating Chinese New Year but I have no idea about the history of this holiday and/or “Red Envelop” tradition. So I use this opportunity and did some research to fulfill my own curiosity, here are what I found…
What Is a Red Envelope?
A red envelope (紅包, hóngbāo) is simply a long, narrow, red envelope with money in it. Traditional red envelopes are often decorated with gold Chinese characters like happiness and wealth. Variations of the red envelope include red envelopes with cartoon characters and red envelopes from stores and companies that contain coupons and gift certificates inside.
Why Are the Envelopes Red and Are There Other Colors?
Red symbolizes luck. Other envelope colors are used for other occasions, for example, white enveloped are used for funerals.
The Legend of the New Year
Chinese legends and stories about the New Year traditions have been told for many centuries. Stories often are slightly different depending on the region that they are in, and the personal beliefs of the person telling the legend of the New Year.
There are three basic stories about how the Lantern Festival came to be, some older than the Han Dynasty.
The Legend of Nian
Chinese legends and stories often include the beast Nian, a monster that preys on children, livestock, and crops. In some stories, Nian rises from the bottom of the sea to destroy life and property.
In Chinese legends, a village is preparing to go into the mountains to escape the wrath of Nian. As they were leaving, a beggar approached one of the villagers for help. Unable to resist fleeing, the woman left the beggar alone in the village. Upon their return, the villagers found the beggar had sent Nian back to the sea by hanging red paper decorations on the door, wearing red clothing, and setting off fireworks. This legend explains many of the Chinese traditions related to New Year, even in 2011.
Chinese New Year and Astrology
Of all the Chinese legends and stories that are heard around the world, perhaps one of the most popular is that of the Chinese animals that journeyed to the Jade Emperor. Each Chinese New Year is also identified by an animal. For example, the year 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. Legend says that the Jade Emperor invited all the animals to come to see him. Of all the animals invited, only the Rabbit, Snake, Horse, Dragon, Ox, Boar, Tiger, Rat, Ram, Monkey, Dog, and Rooster arrived at the palace. In honor of their arrival, the Emperor named a year after each of these animals whose characteristics are thought to be shared by other born in that year.
Other Chinese legends and stories say that Buddha was the person inventing the animals to him to reorganize China. Each of the animals that obeyed were given a year to be named after them, and their characteristics would influence events and people born throughout the year. The animals are also connected to the elements, as well. Earth, Water, Air, and Fire are all used to determine which of the animal’s characteristics will be most evident through the year. These Chinese legends and stories may be a little different from each other, but many people around the world still follow Chinese astrology carefully.
The Kitchen God
There are many Chinese legends and stories told on New Years. The Kitchen God is honored each New Year when families give him food to keep his mouth too full to speak ill of them. Common traditions include giving the Kitchen God sweet cakes, or by hanging a poster that the family can rub a small amount of honey on during the first morning of the New Year. There are many Chinese legends and stories, but these are passed down from generation to generation each year.
So I hope you come and celebrate Chinese New Year with us at Simplicity Décor this weekend.
Happy Chinese New Year !