Red Envelopes, Lai Shi, Hong Bao
Red Envelopes, (Cantonese: 利是, 利市 or 利事, pinyin: lai shi or lai see; Mandarin 紅包 pinyin: hóng bāo).
The red envelopes normally contain money and are given by grandparents, parents or married couples to their children, siblings and unmarried people.
According to Chinese tradition and believes, as soon as one is married, one has sufficient sound financially and hence can share it. In return, the children or receiving person might present oranges/ tangerines to the giving person, but there is no such practice in Hong Kong anymore.
The meaning is to wish for good fortune and wealth in the new year, at times it might be used to pay off debt, though it is not to be compared to the western style of giving money to allow someone ‘to buy rice for a living”
The Red Envelopes most likely will be decorated with lucky, auspicious symbols and/ or good wishes.
The colour red is the most auspicious colour, recent year, more with be printed in Gold Colour and print the Family name on it as to tell this is from. Words are commonly printed on it like good luck, expansive motion in all aspects of life, blooming, reaching upwards, celebration, happiness, joy, vitality, long life, creativity, bringing luck and fame. Before Chinese New Year, new clothing in red colour will be bought and be worn for the first three days of the New Year Celebrations, nowadays, no one is likely to dress up this way anymore in HK.
The old Chinese say only Rich people is stingy…
And or in other form of the saying, will miser get rich only?
I am not sure which comes first?
As I always said that being a big corporate, beside Corporate Social Responsibility, its staff is the most valuable assess, they have to take care them and treat them with some respect.
These are the Red Envelope content amount of some of the firms in HK this year.
EGL Tour $1,000, $500 and minimum $100 for their 600 staff
Bank of China $200
Hong Tai Tour $20
Cathay Pacific $20
Ocean Park $20
Disney land $20
Hang Seng Bank $10
HSBC $0 (No Lai Shi)
No Lai Shi (this is a taboo for Cantonese Chinese meaning nothing is Good!)
Interesting to see no Lai Shi from HSBC, the world largest bank!
In the Chinese new years, I think HSBC can Indulge a bit more expenditure should mean a lot as a drive for the staff to feel part of the team, to give them some kind of warmth and Care!
Say there are 10,000 staff in HK operation, each of them is issued a Red envelop with HKD$100 would mean $1,000,000 only… or in another symbolic way to issues a red envelop of say $10 would be a sum of $100,000 only!
That is a trivial amount for the company… may be there is concern on the world wide operation, But I think they should respect the local Culture… As his Corporate slogan “The World’s local Bank”
My interpretation is “How Shackled the Bank Could be?!”
PS, after I posted this mail, I went to one of the major brach of HSBC asked their cashiers if they have received the Lai Shi, They told me that yes, received form thier supervisor. So I think individual manager has given them the Lai Shi.