Red Envelops/Packets for Fortune and Blessings

This article is special, it talks about the Taoist perspective of giving red envelops/packets, and not just the traditions. Many other sites already talked about the “traditions” already, so you don’t need to read those here. When you step into this Taoist website, you know you are getting something more intense, something with Taoist’s wisdom. Here we go.


Red envelopes or red packets are often called Hung-Yee 紅儀 too, we use them as an offering in Taoism. You see people get ordained, and they will give one to their master as an offering.  During marriages, people also put one side a cup of tea, then the couple serve tea to the elders (kneeling) and the elders will take the envelope and drink the tea as to say “I accepted you”. No matter what it is for, red envelopes are always a sign of respect, offering, or even blessings. If your business has a grand opening day, your elders or even parents might come to you and hand you a red envelop to wish your business good luck too. It’s just a common thing in the culture, and it has nothing wrong about doing so. It’s all out of good intention and respect.

The purpose of red envelops in Taoism and Taoist magic is related to the “TE” 德part, which is virtue, of giving back.  Giving an offering to the gods, to the temple, to the masters who taught you, is a virtue, a sign of respect, and saying thank you to them.

However, why do we put money and not a card inside? Like a thank you card? Because money is earned by yourself, with the 3 elements of creation – time, energy and effort. It represents your life, your heart, and you are offering that.  Giving money also allow the other side to use the money, to extend or improve their life. It’s like saying you worked hard for X hours to earn these money, now you gave it to this person, they can enjoy it and improve their life with it, maybe eat better or buy a piece of clothing etc. You used your life to exchange for theirs’s to improve. A card cannot be consumed like that.

Right now, you can also see that we offer this “give offerings” and such in our temple store, it’s for people to “purchase” any quantity to add up to an amount that they think it can express their heart to thank the gods. Basically, the money is like a “donation”, but it is for supporting the lineage, and the lineage runs then the gods will have their home.  This offering means a lot for the gods. You might think that gods are so powerful, why do they need the money from human? Well, government is powerful too but they need your tax to operate. Simple? Gods are nothing if no one learn and use their powers and wisdom, just like a king is not a king without the people in his country.

How Much to Give

First of all, its not about how much is the right amount, it’s about your intention and heart. Do you feel giving, or do you feel you are being forced to give?  You should be feeling want to give because of how you feel you want to support the lineage, the temple, the gods. You want to show your heart and love, and not to just do it because you were told.

To set an amount that is good, you should use something common to judge the amount. For example, let’s say going to eat with a person, or eat with your master. How about giving $5 USD?  What can you buy with that? A cup of coffee maybe. Sure, you are buying him a drink, you can see how much that means in the heart now.  How about giving $100? Ok, that’s like a dinner, for 2-3 people. You can go on UberEATS and sites like that to take a trip and browse around. Think about how you eat with a friend or relative, you don’t just pay for their portion right? Usually, you pay the whole bill!  So, $5 offering if you split it to you and the master, that’s $2.5 only for each of you, maybe not enough!

How much is enough, I guess you have a way to judge it now. It’s not always about food too. Sometimes it’s like I look at this temple and I think they should have a better computer, or mic, or car. Then you convert that to $ and try to see how much to give. Maybe a computer cost $5000, then you might want to d like $500/month and do that for 10 month or 12 months, then it will add up to that amount. Will the temple use it for the computer or not is their own decision, but you showing your heart to the god is the most important factor.

Numbers and Meaning

There are numbers with meanings, like people using 888, 168, 328 etc. to mean something that sounds auspicious and lucky. Will that “work”? Yes, it does, just about intention. But here most of you are not Chinese so the numbers don’t make sense to you.

You see people doing things like “donut4u” (4 is used), things like that are also the same kind of theory, as long as you can express your intention with the similar of sound, it links and connects, then it works.

I want to give 500, because it’s five = fly, sounds like fly. So, I want your business to fly up (earn a lot), then I use 555, sure!

I want to curse you to get sick, sick, six, six… hey 666! Why not?! It sounds like that, it connects, then it works!

Don’t you see the number 8 looks like the symbol of infinity? I want your business to have infinite number of customers, 888! Oh Ya!  Nine is the max of the digit, so let’s use 899 then. Or 888.99!  Use your creativity and you will come up with different things. It’s just that simple. Remember the rule of thumb is – as long as the sound / shape / whatever is similar and can connect the intention over, it works.

No Coins?

The issue with people putting coins in the past as a taboo is that coins are “hard” and they are not “digestible”, plus they are “hard”, you don’t want people to have a hard time.  But now that we are all going online and using virtual $ (e-money), it’s not even a thing to consider anymore. Any number is fine.

People tend to avoid things like using number 4 because it sounds like dead in Chinese. It doesn’t matter if you put a new meaning to it that works. Just like 842 means 8 (wealth blossom) for “you” (two/tue/you).  Ya, I just made it up, but you get the idea, that is not a problem at all once you understand what is going on. Taboo is only a taboo because your heart is cling to that bad meaning and don’t know how to make up a good one.

CNY Red Packets

For Chinese New Year, every disciple who have ordained, you can chick some FU HEADs (Saam Law fu head if you don’t know any), and then put them into red envelops and send them to your friends or relatives. You are giving it out as a Taoist to spread the Tao. Tell people to not open it for the whole year, just put it in the wallet for fortune and blessings. That’s good enough! At the end of the year can burn it and then do offerings to thank the gods.  It’s the gods’ red packets to people around you, giving off blessings as a gift for the new year.