Ang pow: how much do you give?

Chinese New Year is usually about family gatherings – sadly, not this year though – yummy food, cookies and snacks and of course giving out ang pows! 

For those who are not familiar with ang pow: this is a small red envelope that contains money. Married couples or elders give them to children and unmarried persons. The envelopes are normally red or gold coloured, and symbolise good luck and prosperity.

How much should you put in the ang pows? 

Initially ang pows were given as a blessing and to ward off evil spirits. Nowadays, most ang pows contain money. The money in the envelope should always be in even digits, however the number 4 should be avoided as its pronunciation sounds like ‘death’ in Chinese.

The amount of money to put in an envelope is subjective. The numbers below are basically what the Malaysian middle income group generally gives out.

  • Own parent/in law: between MYR 100 – 300
  • Own children: MYR 50 – 100
  • Children of relatives/friends: MYR 10 – 20
  • Unmarried adult relatives: MYR 20 – 50
  • Cleaners/guards/helpers: MYR 5 -10

The above is just a rough guideline. You may opt to give more or less, depending on your income and how close you are to the receiver.

Traditionally only married couples give out ang pows, however unmarried individuals may give out ang pows to the elderly, to bless them with good health and long life. 

ang pow

When you hand out an ang pow

  • Use only crisp new notes.
  • Never give coins.
  • Do not use a torn or damaged envelope.
  • Both parties should greet each other with “Gong Xi Fa Cai”.
  • Never use white envelopes. This colour is meant for funerals. 
  • For the receiver: never open the ang pow in front of the giver.

If you like to read more about Chinese New Year’s family traditions, have a look at our article here.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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