The Story about Lucky Money in Vietnamese Lunar New Year

April 09, 2021 - 11999 views

Have you ever heard about “Lucky Money”? Are you curious about what it is and where it comes from? As the Vietnamese Lunar New Year is coming, Lucky Money plays an important role in the traditional celebration and cannot be missed. Time changes but the precious ancient traditional value will not be changed and Lucky Money is a typical example right here in Vietnam.

The Tales

What is Lucky Money?

Lucky Money in Vietnamese called “Li xi” and this noun came from the words “lì shì” in Chinese which means “lucky”. Traditionally, Lucky Money is a small amount of money put in a red envelope then is given to children as a wish of luck and everything good will come to them in the lunar new year.

Traditional Red envelope for giving lucky money

Traditional Style Red Envelope


The root of Lucky Money was from an ancient Chinese tale. Once upon a time, there was a family. The couple got married for decades and fortunately, a son was born. However, at that time, there was a devil which always came on New Year Eve and loved to touch children’s heads while sleeping, then they got sick or became silly. One day, some gods passed by the house of the old couple and knew that the devil would come to this family and harmed their son that night. Therefore, to protect the child, the gods turned into some coins and let the mother grabbed them inside a piece of red paper putting right beside her child’s pillow. That night, the devil came; however, it was scared by the twinkle light from the coin and could not put its hands on the child or harmed him.

Ancient Chinese Coins

Ancient Chinese Coins Used As Lucky Money

The above story was spread everywhere and since then, people started to put a little money into a red envelope and gave them to the kids. This activity became a habit and has been continued until now.  

The Present Story

What is Lucky Money now?

Time flies but Lucky Money in Vietnam has not been lost its meaning. However, it is now more than a small wish of luck for children. People give Lucky Money not only to kids but also to everyone still study and cannot earn money themselves, to older people like their parents and grandparents, even to anyone they respect.

Many people change the traditional little amount of money into a much bigger one. There are many reasons for this situation; however, the development of the Vietnamese economy should be considered as the main cause. Vietnamese said that “Phu quy sinh le nghia” or in English: “Honors change manners”, which means the wealthier people are, the more manners were born. As a large part of Vietnamese people become richer, Lucky Money is used as a tool to show their manners and reputation. Of course, many Vietnamese just simply believe that as their financial situation is better now, they have to share it with their families, relatives, or even friends and Lucky Money seems a good way for them to do that.

On the other hand, a little change of the traditional Lucky Money does not mean that it no longer has its ancient valuable meaning. In fact, most people still believe that “Lì Shì” can bring luck to others so giving Lucky Money is the way to wish good things will come to anyone they love. Besides, it also not so bad that people tend to give a big amount of money as “Lì Shì” to children. There are more and more couples help their kids to invest or have a savings account to prepare for their children's future, they believe Lucky Money does not only bring luck to their kids, but it also a save that children can use in the future for study or even a start-up.

Vietnamese Lucky Money

Vietnamese Lucky Money

In business, at present, there are more companies that choose “Lì Shì” as a special and traditional thanks to their valued customers. It is not only a wish for a lucky new year to their customers but also a way that these companies can help to conserve a precious ancient tradition.

In general, time can change everything, even an ancient tradition like Lucky Money. However, the core value will always be there. As the Lunar New Year is coming, wish everyone has a happy new year full of luck, health, and wealth. Of course, if you are going to travel to Vietnam on this Lunar New Year occasion, hope that you can receive some Lucky Money here as a wish for you to meet a lot of good things this year.  

The post you may like: Differences between Vietnamese Lunar New Year and Western New Year


(Image source: Internet)

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