Chinese New Year Ang Pow Guide



Chinese New Year is just round the corner and if you’re lucky enough to still be on the receiving end, its that time of the year where you load your pockets with free money you have done absolutely nothing to deserve.

Hong Baos or its different iterations (Ang Baos, Ang Pows, Ang Paos) are red packets that contain money handed out as gifts during special occasions such as Chinese New Year, Birthdays and Weddings. It is a symbol of good luck which was originally meant to ward off evil spirits. It is practice in Chinese culture across Asia and even in Korea.

So how much ang pow should you be giving? How much should you expect to receive? Here is a simple guide to show you.


Reasons for giving Ang Paos


Who should give ang pows?

Married couples or elderly are expected to give ang pows to unmarried juniors (usually kids!) or unmarried young adults.

Singles are expected to give ang pows to their parents once they start working.

Ang Pow Practices

Usually the traditional greeting when giving the ang pow is “Gong Xi Fa Cai” which literally means “Gong Xi” Congratulations and “Fa Cai” prosper. A wishing of success for the year ahead.

As with most things in Chinese culture (like name cards), Ang pows are given and received with two hands to show respect.


How much to give in an ang pao?


What is inside an ang pow?

Brand new Singapore dollar notes! Never coins. You get these notes from your banks which will have special queues organized just before Chinese New Year. Packets should be red because “Hong” = Red and “Bao” = Package so it literally stands for “Red Packet” in Mandarin.

What is an acceptable minimum amount?

Even amounts are the norm, so generally $6, $8, $10 are the lower denominations. $6 is accepted as a decent amount to give to randoms lest they always remember you as the stingy poker who used to give them lousy ang pows, or they go make a facebook $2 ang pow posts about you which go viral.

Is there a correct number / amount to give?

You avoid anything with $4 as “si” does like death in Mandarin. Likewise, $8 always sounds good as “pa” sounds similar to “fa” in Mandarin, meaning prosperity.

Who will give me the biggest amount?

Your parents. This could range from anything to $50 to $500, it really depends how well to do Mommy and Daddy are and if they believe in being generous in this practice. Note that while we are young, we are on the receiving end. This is a custom you are expected to return when you start working and you should be giving the biggest fattest ang pows back to your parents. An amount of at least $200 is the bare minimum. Never forget!

Expect to receive big amounts from close aunties and unlces too. Giving you all the more reason to be good to your relatives! And remember to pass it on and give it back to their children when you grow up.


Ang Paos for colleagues and relatives


Do I give to single colleagues in my office?

Only if they visit your home during the festivities. Otherwise its just going to be awkward town.

Do I give to older single relatives for example my older unmarried sister?

It depends. If they are the type who will get offended by it then of course save yourself the trouble, and money 🙂

If they aren’t, its recommended to as a sign of good luck more than anything. So sit back, observe how they respond to others first then make a mental note.

Do you have to give ang pows after the first year of your marriage?

No you don’t. Not sure why this reason is is place but it is. Of course you can always start giving if you want to so it ultimately depends on the individual.

I did not get my ang pow! Should I request one?

Sometimes elders forget to give ang pows out. So should you blatantly request for yours? Usually, no as it will be perceived as rude. Unless maybe you’re 5 years old. In that case it may be okay and the auntie will just say “ahahha ah boy so naughty” but you will get your ang pow.

If you do not visit your elders in person, do not expect an ang pow from them. Some might be kind enough to pass along their prepared ang pow through relatives to you. But you should really be visiting all your relatives though as this is what Chinese New Year is all about, reunion and family!

I am rich enough! I don’t want an ang pow! Help!

In the rare case that you hate money, accept it out of courtesy and respect to the giver if nothing else, or its going to be super awkward. You can also collect it and give it to me. 🙂

So how much do you guys normally receive in Hong Pows over Chinese New Year? How much do you guys give out? Let us know in the comments!