A red packet or envelope, also known as Ang Pow, Lai Shi or HÃ³ng BÄo, usually contains money and are given on festive days. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits. The elderly and married couples will give anything between a few dollars to a few hundred dollars to their unmarried juniors, depending on the relationship.
If you visit the house of Chinese friends or relatives on Chinese New Year’s eve, saying the magic phrase Gong Chi Fa Cai (Happy New Year) will invariably get you some red packets. (Of course you should always bring a small gift when visiting someone, such as fruits, cakes or chocolate)
Chinese New Year is on the 26th and 27th of January of the year 2009.
You might also be interested in: The Origins of Chinese New Year