Tradition of the Red Pocket

Gifts are very special ways to celebrate wonderful moments and events of the people we care about. In some cultures, gifts are selected carefully based on the age, gender, personality or many other qualities to personalize the experience to the recipient. However, in some cultures, ‘cold hard cash’ is the tradition and the preferred gift-giving method. Specifically, Chinese and many Asian cultures give a red envelope or red pocket which is a monetary gift normally given during holidays such as Chinese New Year and Christmas, as well as special occasions like weddings, birthdays, graduation etc. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits. The act of requesting for red packets is normally called tao hongbao (討紅包) or yao lishi (要利是). Red envelopes are usually given out by married couples to single people, especially to children or work colleagues.

With many people moving abroad, it is impossible to hold large social gatherings where family and friends can be present, thus the tradition of physically giving and receiving the red envelope is not possible. Some may choose alternate methods of giving money, such as getting other family members to present it on their behalf, sending cheques/bank drafts, or through a money transfer vehicle such as a bank transfer. However, although the goal is achieved, this method lacks the personal touch that is possibly the most important part of the tradition.

Red Pocket Gifts is a 'free' website that has been created to help people to re-connect with the tradition of the gift-giving of money, whether living in close proximity, or being on opposite sides of the world. The complete ‘gift in one’ includes the cash gift component with a message and a personal video, making the experience personal and special to both the giver and the receiver.

Further information: Wikipedia: Red Envelope

My Story

My name is Allison Cairns, the Founder of Red Pocket Gifts. I am a Canadian born Chinese to first generation Chinese parents. Since moving abroad to England over 12 years ago, it's been a struggle to celebrate special occasions with my family in Canada, including the gift giving component. Not only do physical presents require extortionate postage costs, but you also need to be extremely organised so that the gifts are received before the celebration! A Red Pocket' instant' money gift helps with avoiding all of this, it also helps me to connect with my friends and family through the tradition of money gift giving.

I am passionate about preserving culture and tradition in my life, and to that of my beautiful three children. Being away from the root of this, my family, has really made me value the importance of the childhood memories I once thought of as 'silly superstitions'. For example, why can't I wash my hair on New Year's Day? Or eat meat, cut my noodles and clean the house? What's wrong with buying a house with certain numbers, or facing my bed on the southeast corner of my bedroom??? I remember getting my first mobile phone and making sure that the phone number had as many 3's and 8's as possible. And don't get me started on the license plate of my car....

If you are reading this, then maybe you can relate to these quirky superstitions or cultural traditions that have become engrained in the every day life of people like you or me. Most importantly I want to help others to be able to carry on traditions - in this case the giving and receiving of Lucky Money. I am not a corporation or a bank - I'm just a Canadian born Chinese in England who wants to help. So if you encounter any problems or would like to reach out to me with any feedback or suggestions, I'll be more than happy to assist and do what I can to help through Red Pocket Gifts.

What are you waiting for? Send a smile today :) ~ Allison Cairns