Should the tradition of giving red packets be stopped?

Nicholas Wong Hei, 17

Sing Yin Secondary School

Yes. The original purpose of giving red packets was to wish family and close friends luck and happiness in the new year.

In the old days, no matter how old you were, as long as you were single, you had the right to demand a red packet from a married person. The amount of money was usually proportional to the relationship between the giver and receiver. The closer the relationship, the higher the amount.

Nowadays, married couples have to give red packets to everyone they meet. This is killing the original idea of red packets and is making the tradition superficial.

For children, Lunar New Year is the chance to 'earn' money from their parents' friends and relatives. Nothing is better than a gold bill, but a red one is also acceptable. They can use the money to buy things they want.

But this tradition makes young people believe that money comes from handouts, rather than hard work. It's just a small step from thinking that money is earned by taking it - there are stories in the local news regularly about young people stealing.

Also, if you know being nice to someone will earn you more money at Lunar New Year, you may begin to base your relationships on shallow ideas.

If a married couple isn't very wealthy, will young people be less pleasant to them?

Red packets might also be a financial burden to the givers.

I don't think money should be given as a blessing. I believe little gifts, coupons or self-made presents can show love better between friends and relatives.

Phoenix Lee Ching-kwan, 18

Tin Ka Ping Secondary School

Definitely not. Lunar New Year is the most important festival for Chinese people. Red packets are the most exciting part of the festival and are expected by everyone. It is an ancient custom with high cultural value.

The giving of red packets is not just about pleasing others. It symbolises bringing our friends or relatives good fortune. By receiving red packets, children get adults' blessings.

Adults who are unmarried can also earn some money. Even employers give out red packets to their staff as a kind of reward for year-round efforts.

Red packets are part of our cultural heritage. In recent decades, with the infiltration of western culture, traditional Chinese festivals are gradually fading out. Lunar New Year seems to be the only remaining Chinese festival that remains as important as Christmas.

And things will get worse if we stop this ancient practice. Traditional customs are intangible cultural heritage with a long history. As Chinese, we are responsible for preventing it from vanishing.

Red packets may be materialistic, but the meaning behind is a kind of blessing. Is it really such a heavy burden to give out red packets or are people being stingy?

I don't see any harm in giving out red packets - they are fun. A Lunar New Year without red packets would be disappointing.