I received a HonBao in a family setting and I opened it thinking it was a hand written letter (I always hand write stuff to family and friends). I didn’t know a thing about money giving culture here and the red envelope thing.
I received it and thanked wholeheartedly the giver for such a beautiful gift. I then proceeded to open the envelope and didn’t look up to their faces as I was so touched to received a hand written letter.
When I opened it there was only hard cash inside, not small amount. I immediately lifted my face, and what was a white pinky emotional face with tearing eyes turned quickly in ‘no no no what’s this? Why are you giving me money?. It then turned into a long explanation of the red envelope culture and I felt so bad for trying to give it bad to them and getting upset because it was not a letter. At he time I thought it was a prank or something. I mean, back home envelopes are for letters.
Up until this day I cringe when I think of this episode. So bad of me for not knowing the culture beforehand.