Nina Simonds explains the meaning behind the red envelope while at the Imperial Seafood restaurant in Boston's Chinatown. Happy New Year! Gung Hay Fat Choy! Nina Says:
I have been very lucky to have met some extraordinary people in my travels. One of them was a woman named Li-lian Chao, who I met in Taiwan in the 70’s. She was famous for teaching English to tens of thousands of students after arriving in Taiwan alone in 1948. She first hosted an English radio program using the persona "Mother Goose." Later, she taught at the National Taiwan Normal University, Even at age 90, Lillian continued to hold English classes for teenagers in her home to make ends meet. She wrote a small, wonderful book called ‘Chinese Customs and Traditions”. She also loved to talk about Chinese traditions and fairy tales and was also one of the first people to fill me in on the history of the custom of giving red envelopes.
She explained to me and wrote in her book,” When married women pay New Year’s calls according to the custom, they must leave tips wrapped in red paper for the servants. All young children lso receive red packets of money called “ya-sui” meaning to push down the years or “to be ever young”. Children look forward to getting these packets of money and usually squander this income on fireworks and candy”.
As I explained in my video blog, I prefer to stuff the envelopes with lottery tickets. It creates a little intrigue and allows less opportunity for my son and his friends to “squander the money on fireworks and candy. “