Many cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year and for some, a part of this includes the giving of a red envelope.
In Mandarin these are called Hong Bao, but other languages have different names for them.
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|Philippines (Chinese Filipino)
In China, the envelopes are traditionally given to children and young adults as a gift. The envelopes are red to symbolise good fortune and prosperity for the coming year, and traditionally contain money.
However, other countries have variations to this tradition. In South Korea, for instance, the envelopes are white. In Japan they may be white or they may be decorated.
It is not known where or how the tradition began, but it may date back to a Qin-Dynasty (221 - 206 BC) custom where coins were threaded together on red string to ward off sickness. Another story tells how a demon would visit the homes of children on New Years Eve and touch their forehead three times, making the child very poorly. One New Years Eve, two parents gave their child eight coins wrapped in red paper to play with, hoping this would keep the child awake through the night and protect them from the Demon. When the Demon entered the room and tried to touch the child's forehead, bright light came from the envelope and scared the Demon away. The story spread through the village and from them on families wrapped coins in red paper on New Years Eve to protect their child.
More recently, the custom of giving envelopes has been taken on by other cultures. For instance, Malay Muslims in Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Indonesia have taken to giving out green envelopes for Eid al-Fitr and in Singapore and Malaysia, the local population have taken to giving out purple envelopes for Deepavali.
In this activity, try your hand at some simple origami (paper folding) to create your own red envelope inspired by the hongbao.
You will need:
3 pieces of paper in two colours - we have used red and yellow but you can use any colours
Optional - pencils, pens or crayons to decorate
To add your gift, unfold everything and return to step 1. Place your flat item in the centre and redo the folds around it.