Sticking with physical angpows



AS inter-district travel is prohibited during this Chinese New Year, e-angpao service is set to be one of the most convenient ways for long distance families to continue with the tradition of giving red packets.


However, the age-old tradition of giving physical red packets to family members and friends is still strongly observed by many in accordance with the Chinese customs.


Red packets are given as a token of good wishes during auspicious occasions like Chinese New Year, birthdays, weddings and graduations.


The red colour symbolises luck, life and happiness.


A number of people who were approached by Buletin Mutiara were favourable towards keeping up the traditional way of giving physical red packets.

Chong showing the traditional angpows to Buletin Mutiara.

According to Van Hin Book Co. owner Chong Theng Wee, that tradition must be continued despite the Covid-19 pandemic or movement control order (MCO 2.0).


“I understand that the younger generation may somehow prefer electronic transaction but the roots and origin of our culture must be preserved.


“This is one of the most important aspects that needs to be looked into.


“Aside from that, kids generally love to receive angpow. They can know the real meaning of red packet when they receive it from someone.


“My view is that when a person receives a physical red packet, the feeling is special and different,” the 33-year-old Chong told Buletin Mutiara.

Soon emphasises that traditional angpows bring joy to the kids.

Ennis Soon Ean Nee, 34, is also for keeping up with the tradition that has been practised for centuries.


“As someone who is from a conservative and traditional family, I feel it will be awkward if red packets are missing.


“Yes, I understand that we can use online transfer and it is convenient for us as well but this alternative should be the last resort.


“For those relatives who are in outstation, then we have no choice but to use this method. Other than that, I prefer physical red packet as it brings luck and prosperity,” the beautician said.



Guang Ming daily journalist Francis Ooi, 43, said he started to use e-angpao last year.


“I transferred some money to some of my relatives and friends last year. However, for those elderly people, I would give them physical red packet as a way of respecting them.


“Nevertheless, I will choose e-angpao method this year due to pandemic. Moreover, some of my relatives are in overseas, so this will be my way,” he said, adding that the traditional method is still the best among all.

Tan favours angpows compared to e-angpao.

Salesperson Tan Siew Li, meanwhile, said she would keep the red packets until she meets up with her relatives.


“I have never tried out the e-wallet transfer to others, but I feel the Chinese New Year mood can only be felt when you see the red packets.


“Don’t get me wrong as I don’t reject e-angpao but I think the ‘real angpows’ are still the physical ones.


“If someone really can’t meet their relatives or friends, then the last resort will be e-angpao,” she added.

Story by Edmund Lee

Pix courtesy of interviewees