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Traditional red envelopes get a personal touch in China

By Shi Yingying (China Daily)

08:54, February 07, 2013

(File photo)

Key Words: yasuiqian; traditional red envelope; traditional Chinese custom; Spring Festival
>> Spring Festival preparation traditions change

The pieces of red paper found wrapped around yasuiqian, New Year gift money, are available in a new style this year, as name brands and families leave their mark on a traditional Chinese custom.

Companies in Guangdong province and Hong Kong traditionally hand out red envelopes to employees on the first working day after Spring Festival. Thanks to that tradition, Ruiyiju, an online store specialized in hongbao (red envelopes) on China's largest business-to-customer website, Tmall, has a big enough budget to hire its own designers to provide a customized service.

"Our biggest clients are companies," said a sales employee named Li at the Guangzhou-based online store. "They'd offer us their logos, names and preferences on design patterns in the middle of the year — usually June or July — because it would be too late if we received the order at the end of year."

Li said the trend of printing customized red envelops started only recently, but his clients already include Toyota Motor, China Mobile and Bank of China.

The lucky money, called "lai si" in Cantonese, is usually given out by the company head on the first working day, boosting morale and serving as an inducement for another productive year.

Do you want red envelopes stamped with your own name, even though you don't run a company and don't live in Guangdong or Hong Kong? Two booths at Longemont Shopping Mall, one of Shanghai's busiest shopping centers, can help you out.

This is the first year that the Hong Kong-based Joy's Card brought its red envelopes with 360 Chinese surnames printed on them to Shanghai. Shop assistant Lan Dongdong said sales volume tops 3,000 yuan ($480) a day.

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