Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year takes place in January or February (the date changes every year). At the heart of all the celebrations, fireworks, flowers and food is the desire to drive away evil spirits, sweep out the old and attract good luck. There are also many traditional customs involving money. These include settling debts by the close of the old year, giving a New Year bonus to employees, and giving gifts of little red money envelopes.

These little red envelopes (hongbao in Mandarin, laisee in Cantonese and angpow in Hokkien) are usually given by adults to children, and by married people to their unmarried friends. Many people like to give crisp new notes straight from the bank. This has encouraged banks and other businesses to produce money envelopes bearing their logo, as part of their marketing strategy and service to customers.

The envelopes here range from the home-made to the very commercial. Some contained just a few coins, others contained several notes.