Do I give Lai See?
Starting this Thursday, (19th February 2015) Hong Kong celebrates the first three days of the lunar/Chinese New Year. This is the most important festival in the Chinese lunar calendar. Every year is symbolized by an animal and an element (wood, metal, fire, water, earth). This is the year of the wood sheep, although some horoscopes refer to a goat or ram.
This time of the year sees a profusion of decorations (red and gold), orange trees, red poinsettia plants, lion dances, firecrackers (occasionally though, as illegal in HK), the harbour firework display and new year greetings. When someone greets you with ‘King Hei Fat Choi’ in Cantonese, there may be an expectation that you will give the well-wisher a red packet containing crisp new banknotes. The etiquette around who gives and receives a red packet is complicated to those unfamiliar with the practice, as the gifts are one-way. Two people will not give each other Lai See in the way that you might say exchange presents at Christmas.
molalacompany.com has produced a humorous guide to ‘Who gets Lai See’ (PG rated!). See below:
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