When he walked into the Hong Kong supermarket, Sam Lin was scanning his wife’s text messages and instructing him how many red envelopes to buy

Three dozen, she wrote – and make them big to fit checks instead of folded wads of money

Lin’s nephews, nieces, and in-laws won’t have the thrill of pulling crisp bills out of their red Lunar New Year lucky envelopes when the Year of the Ox begins on Friday

Typically, Lin goes to his credit union weeks before vacation to pre-order new bills – 900-100 total$ 000 for the children and elders in his extended family But with the possibility of the coronavirus lurking on $ 20 or $ 100 bills, Lin is one of many Asian Americans who are foregoing traditional money to kick off the festivities / p>

The pandemic in which more than 44000 people died, has changed ancient customs, like so much else.Many families will not meet over luscious spreads, which can include dumplings, sticky rice cakes, whole fish, spring rolls, or long-lasting pasta

This year, red envelopes, often decorated with good wishes in Chinese characters or random symbols like peaches and fish, may contain checks or candy instead of cash.Some people send money through online services so as not to touch anything

Others are opting for virtual envelopes – a marriage of e-cards and venmo – that erupt in a tumult of colors and New Year greetings, allowing the recipient to redeem money

Family members who receive red envelopes are generally those in need of caring for or thanking, including children, parents, and grandparents.Some Asian Americans also give red envelopes to hairdressers, neighbors, postmen, and mechanics

“I think we all need to think about ideas this season,” said Lin, a Monterey Park businessman in his late 50s who was born in Taiwan

In Irvine, Kat Nguyen-De Angelis is extremely cautious about the coronavirus Apart from her husband and her 4-year-old son, no one has set foot in her residential complex since the beginning of the pandemic

She gets her groceries delivered Standing in a long line to ask a bank clerk for a large amount of cash, even if she is double masked, is not a risk she wants to take, however, it is not optional, across generations Distributing Money to Family Members Flipping the calendar is a time of generosity, renewal, and awakening on the right foot by shying away from arguments

“Of course the kids prefer to see and count real money. That’s the highlight,” said Nguyen-De Angelis, 42, a Vietnamese-American PR consultant. “But what about all the germs?”

Your solution: she put caramels with fish sauce discovered on the internet in bright red and gold envelopes, along with lottery scratches for adult teenagers will still get a few bills for the excitement of getting real money out of them Hand in envelopes personally and mail to others

Virtual red envelopes were already a trend before the pandemic, like working from home, they are a technology-driven convenience accelerated by the necessities of the past year

“They’re fast, practical, and can become a game,” said Bill Imada, chairman of IW Group, a global advertising and communications agency with expertise in the Asian and Asian-American markets

Billions of dollars have been exchanged over the online Christmas gifts since the trend started on the WeChat app around 2015, Imada said Features like competitions among friends spurred participation in

“People send love letters, they make their own designs or address them to members of a group, and whoever opens them first in the group gets more money,” he said

Imada’s colleague Flora Zhao has sent digital red envelopes to more than 20 people in her district in California, China, Massachusetts, and New York to avoid the physical mail delay time

“Since you get it right away, don’t worry about being late,” said Zhao, vice president of client partners, who is Sino-American

Lunar New Year is a great marketing opportunity for Asian-centric businesses As Zhao sees Chinese broadcaster CCTV’s New Year extravaganza that draws more than a billion viewers, she posts red envelopes on her WeChat Moments Friends try to be the first to open them and collect the money

Stevie Dai, a student from Alhambra, expects relatives in Singapore to receive a total of at least US $ 250 who have announced that they will be delivering the envelopes – Hongbao in Mandarin, Li xi in Vietnamese – over the Internet

“It’s safer, yes, because it’s true that you can catch COVID from any money, old or new, just as you can catch it from any family member,” said Dai, 17. “It’s about avoiding contact”

Banks around the world have changed their cash practices, with less foot traffic from customers and a slowdown in the number of bills in circulation

At United Business Bank in Garden Grove, which has many Asian-American customers, the usual cash holiday frenzy has resulted in “two or three calls,” said first Vice President Ngoc Tinh Nguyen, in a normal year when the phone before Tet – the Vietnamese term for Lunar New Year – rang, it was likely someone asking for the freshest bills possible000 or 5If $ 000 were not met, the customer would be very upset, added Nguyen,

Through November or December, the bank typically receives additional cash deliveries, including $ 2 bills, which are popular for red envelopes

The District, an outdoor mall in Tustin, usually offers dollar bills in whimsical decorated envelopes for the New Year.The mall’s usual lion dance celebrations have been canceled to avoid attracting crowds Spend US dollars or more instead of cash in red envelopes with gift cards from shopping malls

“We have been trying to figure out how to keep traditions alive while still socially distancing ourselves,” said Shannon Campbell, The District’s director of marketing

Janet Li, 59, a Taiwan-born saleswoman from San Gabriel, typically gives her parents and in-laws $ 100 each for the New Year.She has a ton of nieces and nephews who are also given red envelopes

Opening an envelope to find a check has little appeal to a 7-year-old, Li said – and then the check has yet to be deposited by the parents.She asks her college-aged son to do the envelopes online research, and may include maps for gasoline as well – still a pandemic necessity –

If you stay apart during this important vacation and minimize touching the cash and even the colorful envelopes yourself, family and friends can celebrate together next year

Anh Do is a Metro reporter covering Asian-American issues and general assignments.A second generation journalist, she worked for the Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times, Orange County Register, and Nguoi Viet Daily News, the largest Vietnamese language newspaper in the USAS

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Source: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-02-11/lunar-new-year-cash-covid