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Exploring China with Rex: Red envelopes


02-14-2018 14:22 BJT

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By Qian Ding, CCTV.com reporter and editor

What do people do in China to celebrate the Spring Festival? People from different regions of the country may have different answers to the question. For example, northerners will eat dumplings on the morning of the Spring Festival, but in the south of China where dumplings are not popular, many locals eat a big meal with lots of dishes. But no matter what people do, the Spring Festival is always about one thing and that is family reunion.

In this episode, Rex Simons, who is from the United States of America and studying in China, explores red envelopes culture during the Spring Festival when elders give money to children in the form of hongbaos. With the popularity of social networks such as WeChat, lucky money can also be sent in electronic format. Besides the Spring Festival, people also give red envelops to express congratulations for weddings, birthdays, opening ceremonies and so on.

But how much money should be sent? Has the custom of sending red envelops become way too much stress for many people? Many Chinese people hand over large sums of cash to avoid social embarrassment, from 500 RMB to 1000 RMB or more, even though China's annual per-capita disposable income had amounted to less than 24,000 RMB in 2016. More young people consider sending red envelops as a pointless and lavish way to express good will. So what is the real meaning of sending red envelopes? Should wishes be judged by the amount of notes given? Or we should stick to the symbolic meaning of sending red envelopes, which is simply expressing good wishes. After all, as H.lbsen says,"Money may be the husk of many things, but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not loyalty; days of joy, but not peace of happiness."

Thanks to Rex Simons, Mr. Li and his family, Pan Zhenggang, Zhang Qi, Li Zhangfeng, Luo Li, Li Shouen, Qu Ge and Tom for supporting the video. We hope it provides an informative and objective view on red envelops culture of the Spring Festival.

So happy Spring Festival and welcome to join us along the journey of "Exploring China." You can share with us about your opinions on red envelopes via panview@vip.cntv.cn.

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)


Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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