I love this time of year. I love oranges, homemade pineapple tarts and lo hei in particular. I also love the annual ritual of withdrawing bundles of freshly minted notes from my bank who, each year, never fail in looking a little surprised that this angmoh charboh is actually bothering with the Chinese New Year tradition of giving (ahem, and receiving!) money. Clearly the cashier is not yet a changmoh reader!
Having made a total nonsense of my ang pow giving the first year we were here, (my boo boo was using envelopes that were too similar in colour and passing $8 to one of my best friend’s children and $80 to a child I had never met before *huge fail*) I am now something of an expert.
It’s really quite obvious: differently sized and differently coloured packets for different amounts and a special ang pow wallet – above and below – to hold them all in (and to stop your handbag becoming like a lucky dip with a jumble of denominations: year one’s mistake).
Something I enjoy doing is snatching up unusual ang pow packets over the year as I stumble across them, buying bundles when I see special ones.
I collected the vintage looking packets on various trips to HK – the golden junk in the sunlight (2nd on the right, top line) and the stuck-on paper fan (bottom left) – and they are my favourites but I also love the tiny, skinny purple chap with his stylized copper script…he, unfortunately, is not as useful as I’d envisaged and makes too much of a statement. He only looks truly stylish when filled with a socking great big note.
The only other question to ask – aside from how much do I put inside them all (a well guarded secret) – is who do I actually give ang pow to?
For starters, they have to celebrate Chinese New Year. Assuming they do, I give to all my friends’ children…as well as random kids I’ve never met before, providing the random children actually come up and speak to me (wishings for my prosperity and long life result in a larger packet than a cursory “Hi Auntie”). Naturally.
No chat, no cash!
Top angpow packet image courtesy of Kawakong