Monday, 23 January 2012

The Misery & Insensitivity of Ang Pows

If I could go back in time, I would shoot the person who invented ang pows. He/She may have noble intentions when conceiving the idea many, many years ago, but today the ang pow only brings misery and insensitivity.

How Old is Too Old to Receive Ang Pows?
Ang pows are given by married people to kids and unmarried people. However these days when people are getting married later in life or not getting married at all, the idea of giving and receiving ang pows have become an embarrassing experience altogether, especially when younger relatives and friends get married and they still have to give ang pows to their old cock relatives who are still unmarried.

Imagine the look on their faces and what they must be thinking when they hand the unmarried old cock the dreaded red packet - "When is she ever going to get married?, "She is too old to receive ang pows but I still have to give her so that she won't feel offended", etc..

The question is, "When is it too old to receive ang pows?"

"You have 3 kids and I have 2 kids"
I'm sure you've heard people commenting that if they give RM5 per ang pow packet to their friend who has 3 kids, they would have given out RM15 altogether. However, since they only have 2 kids and their friend reciprocates by giving back RM5 per ang pow packet too, they would only get back RM10 and thus lose RM5.

When I hear people saying things like this it only makes me want to puke. Where the hell is the sincerity in giving ang pows?

And what these parents with less kids or no kids do? They reduce the amount in each packet so that they won't lose too much. Sickening.

To end this entry about the ang pow, here's a story I'll never forget.

When I was a teenager, a few friends came over to my house for Chinese New Year (CNY). My mum handed out ang pows to all of them except an Indian classmate. I can still remember the forlorn look on my classmate's face when she saw everyone else receiving ang pows except her.

When I asked mum why didn't she give an ang pow to my Indian classmate, mum said it's because she's not Chinese, wth! Mum probably was not exposed to living in a multi racial society and inculturation.

Evethough I was only a teenager at that time, I knew that that's not right and gave mum a piece of my mind. Yeah I was a rebellious kid in my teens.

So here's to wishing you a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year!

May the Year of the Water Dragon bring you Fiery Good Health, Hot Passionate Love and lots of Liquid Assets!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!


Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to how you feel! Every year when I receive, my relatives would tell me they expect this is the last year they should be giving me, and I should start giving back to their kids. Sometimes I feel as if it is a sin to not be married.

Giving ang pows is a tradition, like the giving of tangerines. However, people now make it seem like some kind of calculative affair, much like the giving of Christmas gifts nowadays.

The general rule of thumb is that as long as you are not married, you still receive, but not entitled to give, unless you are giving to your elders like parents and grandparents out of respect. And you have to give to whoever that comes to your place during the season, no matter what race or religion.

Once you are married, its a tradition to give. The amount does not matter as it is a token of tradition. And actually, only need to give those younger than you, not entitled to give those older.

Having said that, upholding of tradition is fine and dandy, but unfortunately, people nowadays take it as some kind of chore and "loss of cash" instead of the actual meaning behind the giving - that it is a celebration of the Lunar New Year that is so important to many Chinese all around the world.

JIPP said...

Wow. I didn't know such things about ang pow. I thought it was only given out of will and sincerity. Nway, Happy CNY to you Julie.

Julie Lim said...

Hi Jipp,

That was the initial intention of the person who invented the ang pow - to be given out of will and sincerity. But as time passed by, it became a different thing altogether.

Happy holidays to you too Jipp!

Julie Lim said...

Thanks Juphelia for your lengthy comment :-) Didn't know that married ppl only need to give to younger people, must watch out and see what my younger married cousins do :-)

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