We are entering the lunar new year (Feb 12). It is a really big holiday in Vietnam and usually everyone gets 2 weeks of vacation.
People will host feasts, go see flower gardens, play some gambling games, eat bánh tét. Of course, the most notable are the lucky red envelopes, li xi.
Usually, it falls on the working adults to hand those envelopes out with money inside. You give them to the children, wishing them success in their schoolwork.
Then, you and the kids (after you hand them the stuffed envelopes) one by one give your elders a lucky envelope. You mainly wish them longevity.
It is a wonderful tradition, because it makes you reflect and show appreciation for your elders. As an adult, I love searching for cute envelopes and sharing it with others.
Being the token Asian at work, I started sharing lotto tickets in the envelopes with my coworkers, even though I am pretty sure my boss views it as gambling. Oh well. Everyone else enjoys it.
At my company, though, we are really big in celebrating diversity. Since no one knew about this tradition, my boss did some research and created a whole presentation on it. I really appreciated that.
For my family, sometimes it is money and sometimes a lotto ticket too. Mr. Lumberjack has a younger brother and I wasn’t there when he gave him the envelope. Mr. Lumberjack made him wish me good fortune before he received the envelope on video.
Haha he must have felt so awkward. However, I really like doing it and I feel like I spread my culture in a subtle non-abrasive way. It is fun, light-hearted. Each year, I describe the animal and the traits on the envelope.
It’s all superstition and positive ones at that. It is a little like horoscopes that way, but it is more meaningful and ingrained in Vietnamese culture. It is one of my favorite Vietnamese holidays (to be honest the one I really know in depth).
Pass one some good fortune to those you care about. It is fun. Promise.