I got my red envelope at work today from the project manager (known as Hóng Bāo). It is a small monetary gift for the New Year and the red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is meant to ward off evil spirits. The amount of money usually ends with an even digit, as odd-numbered money gifts are traditionally associated with funerals. HOWEVER – a widespread tradition holds that money should not be given in fours, or the number four should not appear in the amount, such as 40, 44 and 400. The pronunciation of the word four resembles that of the word death, and it signifies bad luck for many Chinese.
The spicy pork was part of dinner tonight with my two colleagues at the local ‘Spicy Restaurant’ (our name for it). Believe me, you will need that ice-cold Tsingtao to wash it down with – and even then your lips glow with a numb fire for a while!