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WeChat Lucky Money Taps into Chinese New Year Tradition

Feb. 17, 2016

“微信红包” WeChat Lucky Money (wēixìn hóngbāo)

During the Spring Festival, Chinese adults will give children and elders “红包(hóngbāo),” known as Lucky Money or Red Envelopes in English, as a sign of luck and good fortune.

However, this year, this Chinese tradition of giving red envelopes stuffed with cash went virtual. WeChat, a popular Chinese social network, has allowed its users worldwide to send and receive virtual red envelopes via a new add-on service called WeChat Lucky Money. Even the traditionally significant Spring Festival Gala of 2016 was overshadowed because people were too busy sending and receiving WeChat Lucky Money. WeChat Lucky Money has really become an immediate hit this Spring Festival!


Lǐ Wén: Zhāng Fēi, guònián nǐ  zài wēixìn shàng qiǎnghóngbāo le ma?
李 文:  张      菲,  过年   你 在   微信     上        抢   红包       了 吗?
Li Wen: Zhang Fei, did you get any lucky money on WeChat during the Spring Festival?

Zhāng Fēi: Wǒ yìzhí zài qiǎng, lián chūnwǎn dōu méi zěnme kàn.
张      菲:我  一直  在 抢,    连 春晚 都    没     怎么   看。

Zhang Fei: Yeah, I was so busy getting lucky money that I hardly watched the Spring Festival Gala.

Ways to Give Away Lucky Money

There are two ways: one is sending a specified amount of money to a certain WeChat contact; the other is more creative. For the latter, the user first fills in the total amount of lucky money and the number of packets to be sent. Then WeChat randomly divvies up the money and it generates a message for the user to send out to a group. The recipients in the group would then rush to click open their packets, and the one who gets the one with the largest amount of money would win the title of “手气最佳(shǒuqìzuìjiā) the luckiest receiver.”


Wáng Hóng: Lín Huá, jīnnián chūnjié nǐ qiǎngdàole duōshǎo wēixìn hóngbāo?
王        红:    林   华,今年    春节   你   抢  到了       多少     微信      红包?
Wang Hong: Lin Hua, how much WeChat Lucky Money did you get this Spring Festival?

Lín Huá: Shǒuqì háibúcuò, qiǎngdào jǐbǎi kuàiqián.
林     华:手气   还 不错,   抢到     几百   块钱。
Lin Hua: I didn’t do too bad. I got several hundred yuan.

Zhāng Míng shǒuqì hěnhǎo, hǎojǐcì  dōu qiǎngdàole zuìdàde hóngbāo!
张          明       手气    很好, 好几次 都   抢到了       最大的    红包!
Zhang Ming is so lucky that he has nabbed the largest red envelope several times!

“拜年红包(bàinián hóngbāo)” Holiday Lucky Money

Holiday Lucky Money is another new function of WeChat Lucky Money this year. Different from the Lucky Money mentioned above, it contains small amounts of money and related blessings. For example, “9(jiǔ)” and “久(jiǔ)” are homophones, so 0.99 yuan means “好运长久(hǎoyùn chángjiǔ) good luck forever.” And the pronunciation of “8()” is like “发()” in “发财(fācái),” meaning to make a fortune, so 8.88 yuan symbolizes “财源滚滚(cáiyuán gúngǔn) profits pouring in from all sides.” What’s more, “6(liù),” a lucky number for Chinese, means “smoothly and successfully,” thus 6.66 yuan means “六六大顺(liùliù dàshùn) everything goes smoothly.” Also, “one-two-one” is what soldiers say when marching forward, so 1.21 yuan signifies stepping towards happiness.


Guòniánle, láobǎn gěi wǒmen měigè yuángōng dōu fāle yígè bàinián hóngbāo.
过年了,    老板    给    我们     每个      员工       都  发了 一个 拜年       红包。
This New Year our boss sent every employee Holiday Lucky Money.

Wǒ zài wēixìn shàng gěi dìdi   fāle  yígè  liù diǎn liù liù yuánde hóngbāo, xīwàng tā xīnde yìniánlǐ nénggòu yìqiè
我    在   微信    上     给 弟弟 发了 一个 6.66                元的     红包,    希望   他  新的  一年里   能够     一切

I sent 6.66 yuan of Holiday Lucky Money to my little brother on WeChat to wish him a smooth year.


1. Which is the traditional way for Chinese to give lucky money?
A. Give others lucky money on WeChat.
B. Give others red envelopes stuffed with cash.
C. Give others lucky money via credit cards.

2. The following are all ways to give WeChat Lucky Money except ?
A. Sending a certain number of red envelopes to a certain WeChat contact.
B. Sending a certain amount of lucky money to a certain WeChat contact.
C. Sending a certain number of packets of lucky money to a group.

3. If you receive 0.99 yuan of WeChat Lucky Money, what does it mean?
A. Wishing you good luck forever.
B. Wishing you good health in the new year.
C. Wishing you happiness in the new year.

See Answers

You may be interested in more traditions related to the Chinese Spring Festival:

在中国过春节 (Zài zhōng guó guò chūn jié) Celebrating Spring Festival in China

Keywords about Spring Festival (Ⅱ) (Elementary)

Why do Chinese eat fish during Spring Festival?

Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff) 

Chinese Culture

General Chinese (Beginner Level)

General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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