|"Li xi"- a meaningful gifts on Tet holiday|
Story tells that…
The story tells that once upon a time, living in a huge peach blossom tree in the East Sea were all evil spirits on Earth. While being kept inside the tree and controlled by deities, they always tried to escape and harmed people. However, on New Year’s Eve, as the deities had to gather together at the Heavens, Tuy would appear, rubbing small children’ head to make them burst into loud wails and get high fever. Thus, the whole family had to stay awake all night to protect the children from the ogre.
Some Deities while once stopping by a village had turned themselves into gold coins. Parents covered those coins in red cloth and placed under a child’s pillow. Later, when Tuy came, the coins sparkled and drove it away. Good news quickly spread out all over the country, and from that time on, Vietnamese have had the tradition of giving small children lucky money in red envelope on the first day of Lunar New Year.
Meaning of “Li xi”
According to a dictionary published by the Vietnamese Institution of Linguistics, “li xi” means “Giving money to children to welcome the new age on the first day of Lunar New Year”. It is a small amount of money that can bring good fortune to the upcoming year. However, “li xi” is not limited only on the first day, but can even last to the 9th or 10th day of Tet Festival, and given when the adults first met the kids.
|Illustrative image. Photo:Internet|
The first three days of the springtime new year are celebrated by everyone, although for many others, the festivities and other forms of celebrations can last an entire week.According to traditional beliefs, the money in red envelops, usually in nominal quantity, bears a symbolic meaning while the red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits.Giving li xi during the lunar New Year has been considered fortunate for both the givers and receivers. Those who give will also invite the flow of money into their house during the entire year. Giving these envelopes symbolizes that the family fortune would be passed on to the children and the unmarried teens or adults.
A meaning gift to everyone
“Li xi” occupies an indispensable part in Vietnam’s customs of Tet Festival, especially with children, as they will remember the fondest memories about Tet as the beginning of a wonderful year. According to a dictionary published by the Vietnamese Institution of Linguistics, “li xi” means “Giving money to children to welcome the new age on the first day of Lunar New Year”. It is a small amount of money that can bring good fortune to the upcoming year.
|A gift for everyone. Photo:Internet|
However, “li xi” is not limited only on the first day, but can even last to the 9th or 10th day of Tet Festival, and given when the adults first met the kids. Besides the money, the tiny red envelope also has its own meaning. It represents the secrecy and privacy to avoid comparison; as adults want the children regard the money as the gift of New Year, instead of being jealous of receiving less than other kids. The red color, the most popular color appearing in Vietnamese festivals, signifies the prosperity and great luck according to Asian’s beliefs. “Li xi” is also the symbol of flukes, since the more “li xi” a person gives or receives, the more flukes he will gain.
Children will respectfully fold their arms in front of their chests, and, facing their parents as well as grandparents, give them the best wishes for a “Happy New Year” or “good health and longevity”.The adults, in return, also extend their wishes to children for “Eating well and growing up healthy”, and “Happiness and prosperity” for all family members. Guests also give children lì xì as well.
“Li xi” tradition has been preserved until today. A red envelope with some new notes carries Vietnamese hope for children to “eat more, grow rapidly”, to study well and to have a delightful year ahead. Furthermore, the “lucky money”, as its name suggests, is believed to bring luck and wellness so the recipients might as well keep it.