February 1, 2022 is the date of Lunar New Year in Chinese tradition. The Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in many Asian cultures, including the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean communities. It is a celebration that spans several days, marked by feasts to honor household deities and one’s ancestors. The Lunar New Year typically begins with the first new moon to occur at the end of January, beginning of February.
Each Lunar calendar is represented by one of 12 zodiac animals, including rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. There are also five natural elements associated with each Lunar calendar – earth, water, fire, wood, and metal. Every year is represented by one zodiac animal and one element. This year, 2022, is the year of the water tiger.
The Year of the Water Tiger
While the year of the tiger comes around every 12 years, the water tiger only is represented every 60 years. According to History.com, the water tiger is “action-oriented and represents strength, clearing away evil and bravery.”
Cash for Lunar New Year
While most Americans are familiar with several of the Lunar New Year traditions, including celebrations, colorful dragon parades, and fireworks, one tradition that may be lesser known is the giving of cash for Lunar New Year.
Red colored envelopes are frequently given during Lunar New year celebrations as a way to send good wishes. “The color red symbolizes energy, happiness, and good luck in Chinese cultures. Traditional red envelopes are often decorated with beautiful Chinese calligraphy and symbols.”
The Red Envelope
While these days the money enclosed in the red envelopes is coveted, the tradition of the red envelope is actually more about the envelope itself.
According to Google’s Arts and Culture page, “The custom of giving red envelopes originates in some of the oldest stories of Chinese New Year. As the legend goes, a demon known as ‘Sui’ terrorized children while they slept on New Year’s Eve, and parents would try to keep their children awake all night to protect them. One New Year, a child was given eight coins to play with to keep him awake, but he couldn’t keep his eyes open and eventually drifted off with the coins on his pillow. Sui appeared, but as he went to touch the child, the coins (actually the Eight Immortals in disguise) produced a powerful light that drove the demon away. Today the envelope, symbolic of the coins, is sometimes known as the yasui qian, or ‘suppressing Sui money.’”
For those celebrating the Lunar New Year, it’s not too late to get the cash to fill your red envelopes. A local ATM can provide the cash needed to keep the celebration going strong.