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Sat 29 Apr 2017
The Red Envelope
Written by Gor   
Tuesday, 07 January 2003 00:00

At school, you can usually tell who is Chinese at this time of year. They are always absent for a few days during the Chinese New Year celebrations. I used to be one of them!

Really I am not Chinese myself, but the parents of my grandmother are Chinese. So my grandmother celebrates this festival in the traditional way. And that’s why I used to celebrate this festival. But, these last few years my family didn’t celebrate because my grandmother said that it costs too much. Apart from her, we aren’t really Chinese so we didn’t bother as she didn’t want to do it.

Anyway, I can still remember exactly what I did. I still remember how excited I felt when I received my first "ang pao" from my grandmother. This is a red envelope with some money inside. Let’s read about how I celebrated this festival in the past.

The two days before the New Year are the last days for shops to open for Chinese people. So, it was the day that my parents went out shopping for the food and other things that would be used in the ceremony. I didn’t really like this day because I had to go with them to carry the heavy bags. Chicken and duck are the two things that all the Chinese can’t miss. We always buy at least one of each. The food and fruits are very expensive during this time of year because all Chinese people have to buy them. They are an important part of the ceremony.

Then comes the day before the festival. I call it the "cleaning day". From the time I woke up in the morning, I had to do cleaning for most of the day. I had to clean my house and after that go to help my grandmother at her house. My grandmum told me that the clean house would bring good luck to us when the New Year comes.

I always feel happy to wake up in the early morning of Chinese New Year’s day. I went with my family to my grandmother’s house to take part in the festivities. I really liked this day because it was the day my grandmother was going to give me the red envelope!

The red envelope will be given out to the children by their relatives. How much money the children will get depends on how many Chinese relatives they have and also how rich they are! I only had my grandmother so I only got one red envelope with a hundred baht bank note inside. But, some of my friends got like a couple of thousand baht altogether.

After arriving at my grandmother’s house, I would go to light three incense sticks and then to pay respect to my dead ancestors. A little while after that my brother, my cousins and I would line up and receive the red envelopes from our grandmother. After I received it, I sometimes went to school or just stayed with my family for the day. Lots of students take the whole day off even though the ceremony is only held in the morning.

Really, I don’t think it is necessary for me to celebrate the Chinese New Year any more. I have more Thai blood in me than Chinese. For some of my friends, their grandparents are Chinese but for me it is my great grandparents. Most of us only think about how much money we will get in the red envelope. We don’t really know why it’s important or the reason why we have to make an offering to our ancestors.

Every generation, the Chinese blood in Thai people is getting less. How much longer will other Thai families keep on celebrating? One day, Chinese New Year might become just another holiday for people like Christmas — just an excuse to celebrate without knowing the real meaning for the festivities. What do you think?