How red packets came about

Nian beast
[image by Heather Bickle]

It started with a legend where villagers frightened off a terrible beast called Nian with wearing red clothes, banging pots and pans to make loud noises, and holding out their red packets. It turned out that Nian was scared of the colour red, and red packets were easier to carry. So that’s the 2 sentence summary of how red packets came about.

But red packets could get “misplaced”, and then Nian would eat those poor children and elderly who lost their red packets. Thus money was placed into the red packets so that people were less likely to “misplace” their red packets. That’s why red packets contain money. So that’s the 3 sentence summary (based off the 2 sentence summary above) of why red packets contain money.

Red packets

That’s not very satisfying, is it? So I suggest you read the full legendary story in the February 2011 issue of Singularity, along with some fun facts of the Chinese New Year.

To all Chinese in the world, have a happy Chinese New Year! And to everyone, have a successful and prosperous year ahead!