E-hongbao has gained great popularity among Chinese since its emergence, especially in this Spring Festival. The time-honored hongbao culture has originated from Chinese ancient dynasty. Silk Road Post will unveil and explore its magic throughout time and also introduce the traditional red envelope (hongbao) as well as e-hongbao.
WeChat owner Tencent said data showed that from January 27 to February 1, WeChat users received and sent more than 46 billion virtual red envelopes, with a year-over-year growth of 43.3 percent. In addition, Guangdong tops with a total of 5.84 billion hongbao nationwide.
Giving red envelopes of money — known as hongbao is a tradition in China, usually in some important occasions such as Spring Festival, wedding, funeral, visiting patients, to name a few. The action purely represents the great wishes to the recipients, often among family and friends. When it comes to the amount of the money, it mainly depends on local custom and generally people in northern area would be more generous than its southern counterpart due to different culture.
E-hongbao, introduced by mobile chatting app WeChat in January 2014, has now become a popular way of sending Chinese New Year greetings among the younger generation. Taking place of red envelopes, greeting cards, it has developed into a brand new tool for expressing good regardes.
The sender transfers cash from a debit card to an e-hongbao that is then distributed among a group of recipients. Adding to the fun, the share that each person receives is generated randomly.
So if a 100-yuan (US.5) e-hongbao is sent to 10 people, their share can range from 1 cent — one hundredth of a yuan — to 99.01 yuan.
E-hongbao is a welcome diversion from the burdens of hongbao obligations in the real world, and the fun that social media have bestowed makes it an entertainment and social tool for its ability to create an active and friendly atmosphere even among strangers. A common hongbao chain game usually stirs up passions in a Wetchat group; in this game the one who has got the most money in the previous round will be the sender for the next round.
However, different amounts of money in e-hongbao has also different meanings, for instance, 8 always conveys good wishes of making a fortune to recipients, and 6 expresses wishes of having good luck, while the pronunciation of 520 resembles "I love you", so it's reckoned as a love profession to some extent.
(By Zoe Xu, Louis Berney)