Hongbao, or red packets, are traditionally handed out by married couples to their parents, single adults and children during the Chinese New Year celebrations as tokens of good fortune and blessing.
Dr Lim Lee Ching, 42, vice-dean at the School of Human Development & Social Services at SIM University, says there is “no rule” in terms of the amount to put into a hongbao.
“Giving hongbao is a gesture and not a transaction, although many Singaporeans seem to think otherwise,” he says.
He adds that it is “not necessary, perhaps even impractical” to give the same amount to everyone.
Dr Kang Ger-Wen, 43, course chair for Chinese Studies in Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Humanities & Social Sciences, agrees there is no fixed amount as hongbao symbolises a blessing.
He also feels the amount for a family member versus, say, a colleague’s child, should be different. “Because in Chinese tradition, especially in Confucianism, love towards a close family member and towards a friend should be different,” he explains.
In 2015, The Straits Times Life published a story on the hongbao going rate. It was then $8 per packet, according to an online survey by the United Overseas Bank of 500 people and an informal poll conducted by the paper.
For newlyweds, these experts say the giving of hongbao should be within the couple’s means, and not become a source of financial stress.
There is also a convention that newlyweds do not give hongbao in the first year of marriage.
Click on arrows for more.