Both China and Vietnam still employ the Lunar calendar. Since they use the moon (instead of the sun) to track the passage of time, they have a different New Years day. The Lunar New Year--more commonly called “Chinese New Year”--usually falls in between late January to mid February. In 2015, Lunar New Year Day is today, February 19th! In Vietnam this day is called “Tết.”
Marking the coming of Springtime, this day is very important in these cultures. I would compare it to the Christmas Holiday in the Christian world combined with the party atmosphere of New Year’s Eve. For three days, people will visit their friends and families to partake in food and assorted traditions.
Similar to Christmas, young people will receive gifts from adults, called “Lucky Money.” Because red is considered the most lucky color, the money is given inside red envelopes, in the hopes that this money will bring good luck to the person spending it throughout the coming year.
Normally you buy these red envelopes in a pack of 6 for about a quarter. They measure around 4.75″ x 3.25″, perfect fit for a bill folded in half.
In 2011, I found some red envelopes that featured Snow White and her Disney Princess friends. I don’t read Chinese but I assume the translations would be common things people say to each other on the occasion: “Happy New Year!” and “Health, Wealth, and Good Luck!”
2011 Chinese writing. All four of these envelopes share the identical design on the back side.
2012 + 2013 Chinese writing.
2013 Vietnamese writing; this one translates to “Academic Advancement.” A hope all adults want for young people.
2014 Vietnamese writing.
Happy Springtime from us all
All Things as you wish + Welcome New Spring
Wishing Good Fortune
This year in the Chinese/Vietnamese Zodiac is the Year of the Ram/Sheep. Wishing everyone Health Wealth and Good Luck in the coming New Year. May all your endeavors succeed as you wish. --Squeaky
Also see earlier Archive entries featuring Squeaky's Snow White costume and carpet-bag.