Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Angpao talk

Ok, first of all wish all the reader a happy Chinese New Year and a prosperous year.

Today just want to share with you all about angpao. I believe everyone know that angpao mean red packet and I believe it is from Hokkien. Cantonese will pronounce as hongbao, and Fuchuo will pronounce it as ernbao. I hope I spell the sound correctly. Anyway, back to today topic, anyone know what is angpao? When it's started? And what is the real meaning behind this red packet?

I'm not sure those primary school's teachers got told their students about this little Chinese culture or not. I hope they do. What I know is that angpao is equal to money. Children are happy during Chinese New Year because of new clothes and most important elder will give angpao to them or in other word, elder give money for them during the Chinese New Year.

Originally, angpao is called 压祟 (pronounce as ya sui). If you don't understand Chinese, the two words, 压 mean confine, push, control, force down; and 祟 mean evil spirit. Therefore the two words combine together mean to control the evil spirit. There is a story about this culture.

In ancient times there was a black body and white hands demon called the "祟", in the Chinese New Year's Eve night, he will come and use his hands to touch on the sleeping child's head three times. The children will get frightened and cry, and then fever, start raving and sick for few days before recover from illness. However, when the child recovered from illness, the child had become a lunatic. People are afraid of evil spirit come to harm their children, therefore, they lit the lights and sit beside them over the night, and this is known as 守祟 meaning "keep away evil spirits."

In Jiaxing house, an old couple got a son at old age, therefore they love their song very much. In the Chinese New Year's Eve night, they fear that evil spirit will come to harm their child, they forced their children to play. Their children use a red paper to wrap eight coins, then open the wrapping and wrap it back again until he fall asleep. The wrapped eight coins dropped into the pillow. The old couple dare not close their eyes and stay next to their child. In the middle of the night, the evil spirit came and when he want to touch on the child's head, a light ray come out from the child's pillow and the evil spirit get scared and screaming away. Therefore, everyone using this method to protect their children from the evil spirit.

The word 压祟 has become 压岁, which is same pronunciation and the word 岁 mean age. So, the meaning become prevent getting older. And 守祟 become 守岁, but this time is the children didn't sleep over the night to hope their parent get longer life.

Well, I hope those parent can tell their children about these Chinese cultures.

Ok, about me and my angpao. Normally I will keep my angpao (and the money inside) and put in the drawer until few months after the Chinese New year. Sometime, I still can find my last year angpao which got money inside. No any meaning or purpose that I do that, I just appreciate those angpao that people give to me and try to keep it. I believe I still have the angpao that my grandmom give to me :)

Ok, hope everyone get rich this year, huat ar!!!!!!!!!!!!!