askST: How much to give in a hongbao?

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The Straits Times lifestyle correspondent Bryna Singh explains the proper etiquette on the giving and receiving of hongbao (red packets).

SINGAPORE - Some look forward to it, others dread it.

Chinese New Year is around the corner and that means it is time for the giving and receiving of hongbao or red packets.

Hongbao is traditionally handed out by married couples to their parents, single adults and children as tokens of good fortune and blessing during the festive celebrations.

How much should you put in a red packet?

Experts say there is no fixed amount, as hongbao symbolises a blessing.

Think of it as a gesture, rather than a transaction. Give within your means, it should not become a source of financial stress.

Also, it is not necessary to give the same amount to everyone.

For newlyweds, there is a convention that they do not need to give hongbao in the first year of marriage.

Does a younger sibling who is married have to give a hongbao to an older sibling who is single?

Experts say there is no etiquette to this but generally, we do not need to give hongbao to those who are able to earn a living for themselves.

Is there an age limit to getting hongbao from relatives?

There are no set rules for this. It is up to the giver and receiver and the nature of their relationship.

An elderly relative may give a hongbao to his or her grown-up niece as a symbol of the closeness they share.

Must the amount be an even number?

Yes, experts say, because all good things come in pairs.

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