Talking Points: Is lai see an important tradition or a product of a greedy society?

Talking Points: Is lai see an important tradition or a product of a greedy society?

Hate it when you can’t talk back? Well, you can with Young Post. Have your say and share with students around Hong Kong

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Is lai see during Lunar New Year a good idea?
Photo: Nora Tam/SCMP

Chan Wai-tai, 13, Pentecostal School

I think lai see is an important tradition, with many centuries of tradition behind it. People put money inside the red packets because it represents your blessings to others.
They are given out in the Lunar New Year and during weddings. I don’t think this is a product of a greedy society.

Anson Wang Tsz-shun, 11, Victoria Shanghai Academy

Lai see, in Chinese, means to spread good luck and health, and to keep the bad spirits away. Nowadays, it is given to young people during the Lunar New Year. It is given to them to wish them good luck.

Lai see is also a traditional way of showing appreciation. Giving red packets to people like security guards is a token of gratitude. It has nothing to do with greed.

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Miko Li Hang-chun, 15, Henrietta Secondary School

Lai see is a way to wish other people luck. Chinese people believe the more luck you give to others, the more luck you receive. However, people nowadays give lai see because it just seems like something you need to do. After the holidays, people talk about how much they have received, or compare amounts online. I think these things show that lai see is now a product of a greedy society.

Yiki Wong, 13, Gertrude Simon Lutheran College

Lai see is an important tradition in Hong Kong. When we celebrate the Lunar New Year, we get money from our older relatives. We feel happy when we get it. It’s something we’ve done for years, and is an important tradition. l don’t think lai see is a product of a greedy society – people can choose to give it if they want. I also think that, without the lai see, you haven’t really celebrated the Lunar New Year.

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Rachel Ho, 12, Maryknoll Convent School (Secondary Section)

I think lai see is an important tradition. Parents and married people give lai see to young people because it symbolises good luck. This tradition has gone on for years. It is still valid today, as it promotes essential values in our culture, such as sharing and love. It’s an act that brings people closer. Sharing is caring, so there’s no way lai see can be a product of a greedy society.

Sabrina Sun, 12, Maryknoll Convent School (Secondary Section)

Lai see is symbolises good luck and best wishes, and is part of our culture. Our ancestors have been giving out lai see for a long time and this continues on today. How is giving blessings to people greedy? It is not the money that counts. It is the blessing that matters.

Kary Yeung, 15, Henrietta Secondary School

Lai see are red, because it’s a colour that symbolises energy, happiness, and good luck. Parents give their children lai see in the hopes of keeping them safe and sound. To me, this makes it the most meaningful part of the Lunar New Year.

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Wei Yue, 19, Precious Blood Secondary School

Lai see has existed for a long time. It is a very Chinese way expressing good wishes to children. Parents offer lai see to children hoping that they live well in the new year. That doesn’t sound like greed to me.

Isaac Chan Yan-long, 13, Pentecostal School

I think lai see is a product of a greedy society. Many children like the Lunar New Year because they get money, but some won’t say any of the traditional good luck phrases to their relatives or to older people in exchange for them.

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Kary Tong, 16, St. Paul’s School (Lam Tin)

Lai see is undeniably an important Chinese tradition, but it is becoming a product of a greedy society to some degree. Originally, people gave lai sees to express their blessings in the beginning of a new year. The amount is usually small, because what matters is the red packet’s meaning. People don’t think that way now, though. Instead of focusing on the symbolic meanings of lai see, people focus on the amount. Some even look forward to the Lunar New Year only because it is “a festival which brings in money”. It’s very disappointing to see.


In our next Talking Points, we'll discuss:

Should schools reward students for 100 per cent attendence?

We are now accepting your answers for this topic. To take part, email your answer with your name, age, and school, along with a nice, clear selfie (make sure it’s not blurry), to yp@scmp.com by lunchtime on Monday. Don’t forget to include “Talking Points” in the subject line.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Is lai see an important tradition or product of a greedy society?

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