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Vietnamese lucky money (li xi): An insight into a time-honored tradition

29/01/2024 12.667

Vietnamese lucky money, or "li xi," is traditionally given during the Lunar New Year to bestow blessings of good luck and happiness upon the recipients. These red envelopes play a significant role in maintaining family bonds and expressing love during this auspicious holiday.

Vietnamese lucky money

Every Vietnamese person cherishes the tradition of giving and receiving Vietnamese lucky money, known as "li xi." This is especially true for children, who eagerly anticipate it during the Vietnamese New Year. The exchange of lucky money during the Tet Holiday stands out as one of the most eagerly awaited traditions, having endured through the ages and remaining an integral part of Vietnamese culture when the Lunar New Year Festival approaches.

1. A glance at Vietnamese lucky money

1.1. What is Vietnamese lucky money? Where does it originate from?

Li xi means "lucky." The tradition of giving Vietnam lucky money involves placing a small amount of money in a red envelope and giving it to children. This symbolizes wishes for luck, health, and prosperity and is only observed during the Lunar New Year and not other Vietnamese holidays

This tradition is believed to be a way to protect children from evil spirits in the past. According to legend, evil spirits would harm children during New Year's Eve, and the gods transformed into bronze coins placed under a child's pillow to ward them off. This led to the practice of giving Vietnamese lucky money to children.

Vietnamese lucky money

Another legend ties the tradition to China's Tang dynasty, where the king gave gold and silver in a red envelope to protect a newborn prince. While there's no scientific proof of lucky money's luck-bringing abilities, it continues to bring happiness to recipients, bridging ancient traditions with modern times. Thus, Vietnamese lucky money remains a cherished part of Vietnamese culture.

1.2. Who gives and receives Vietnamese lucky money?

Li xi givers are often adults, such as grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and older siblings. They customarily offer lucky money to younger family members and other children. But Vietnamese lucky money isn't limited to children; it can also be given to the elderly. When grown-up sons and daughters give li xi to their parents, it is a gesture of care. The elderly, in turn, are delighted to receive lucky money, as it symbolizes their children's self-sufficiency. Additionally, married couples can give li xi to unmarried individuals to convey well-wishes for their future.

Vietnamese lucky money

1.3. How important is Vietnamese lucky money on the Tet Holiday?

Giving and receiving Vietnamese lucky money is a cherished tradition closely tied to the Tet Holiday. For Vietnamese people, this practice strengthens family bonds, conveys wishes, and adds to the festive atmosphere. Despite the small amounts enclosed, giving li xi is an integral part of the traditional Vietnamese culture, symbolizing the wishes for good fortune. The exchange of red envelopes is believed to enhance the perceived luck for the upcoming year.

2. Different ways of giving Vietnamese lucky money

The traditional ways of giving Vietnamese lucky money involve using red envelopes, while modern ways include digital transfers and giving electronic gift cards.

2.1. Traditional way of giving li xi

On the Lunar New Year, families come together in the morning to pay respects to their ancestors with incense and share a meal. It is a time for younger family members to offer well-wishes to their elders. In return, grandparents and parents give Vietnamese red envelopes to the children. The vibrant red color, considered as an embodiment of luck in Asian culture, is standard.

Vietnamese lucky money

2.2. Modern ways of giving li xi

In modern times, not only seniors give Vietnamese lucky money. As long as you have an income, it is common to celebrate the older members of your family, including your parents and grandparents. This tradition has also extended beyond the family circle, encompassing friends, colleagues, and neighbors who exchange li xi and other Vietnamese New Year gifts during the Tet Holiday.

In recent years, in line with technological advancements, giving li xi online has gradually become a trend, particularly among the younger generation. With this approach, even those living far away from their families during the Tet Holiday can celebrate their loved ones and friends on the new year. Li xi can be sent and received online through various means, such as bank transfers or e-wallets. This modern adaptation of the tradition aligns with the convenience of contemporary lifestyles.

Vietnamese lucky money

>>> Check out how to say Happy New Year in Vietnamese!

3. How much is typically given as Vietnamese lucky money?

The question of how much Vietnamese lucky money is enough for the Lunar New Year doesn't have a universally precise answer. The amount one gives or receives in lucky money depends on the closeness between the giver and recipient, their individual financial circumstances, and the family’s traditions.

Notably, specific numbers are often favored when choosing the amount for Vietnamese lucky money, especially when li xi is sent online. The numbers 6, 8, and 9 all signify good fortune and luck. Thus, amounts like 66, 666, 88, 888, 99, 999, etc are favored. These numbers align with popular cultural beliefs and convey specific well-wishes for the year ahead during the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Vietnamese lucky money

>>> Learn about public holidays in Vietnam to better prepare for your trip to Vietnam!

4. Things to avoid when giving and receiving lucky money on Tet Holiday

Regarding Vietnamese red envelope etiquettes, a few things must be noted:

  • Avoid giving li xi with the amount related to the number 4. In Vietnamese culture, the number 4 symbolizes unfortunate occurrences.
  • It is also advisable not to give odd amounts of li xi, as odd numbers represent incompleteness. Therefore, giving even amounts is best.
  • Don't use old, tattered envelopes for li xi, as they may carry negative energy from the past year. Instead, opt for new envelopes with thoughtful, appropriate messages for the recipients.
  • Avoid opening the envelopes in front of the giver; this is considered impolite and may show that you favor material gain over the giver's goodwill.
Vietnamese lucky money

You can make the most of your Vietnam travel during this festive season by visiting iconic cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Ha Long. These destinations offer diverse Tet experiences, from lively celebrations to tranquil getaways, allowing you to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture and create lasting memories.

Regardless of where you plan to go or the type of adventure you seek, reliable accommodation is crucial for an unforgettable journey. That's where Vinpearl comes in. Renowned for luxurious accommodations, exceptional services, and prime locations in Vietnam's most desirable tourist destinations, Vinpearl ensures a lavish experience. Whether you choose a beachfront resort or an upscale hotel, every Vinpearl property is meticulously designed to offer guests unparalleled comfort and access to top-notch amenities.

Vietnamese lucky money


Vietnamese lucky money

Furthermore, be sure to discover the entertainment haven of VinWonders. Here, you can submerge yourself in a realm filled with exhilarating activities and captivating performances, promising boundless enjoyment suitable for individuals of all ages.

>>> Book rooms in Vinpearl Phu Quoc, Vinpearl Nha Trang, Vinpearl Resort & Golf Nam Hoi An, Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long to shape your stay into a dream escape!

In modern times, Vietnamese lucky money remains one of the most crucial customs for Vietnamese people during the Lunar New Year. The significance of this tradition isn't measured by the monetary value but rather by the heartfelt wishes of the givers for the happiness and prosperity of their loved ones in the coming year. If possible, plan your next adventure to Vietnam on the Tet Holiday and delve deeper into the tradition of giving li xi.

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