May 24, 2006

Going rates for hongbao

I recently received an invitation to a coworker's engagement ceremony. Although I barely know her, I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what an engagement ceremony is like... until I found out how much it costs to show my friendship. I was told by multiple people that the I need to bao hongbao (包紅包), to put some money in a red envelope for her. The rates are:

not attending ceremony: NT$1200 (US$37)
attending ceremony: NT$1600 (US$50)
attending ceremony with guest: $1800 (US$56)

But of course you get something in return. You get a box of cookies. And the other party will be required to return the favor at your own wedding and the weddings of all your children. I'm not sure, but they are probably also obligated to send you money for your children's manyue (滿月) (one-month old) celebration. Going rates for that are NT$500-NT$600 (US$15.50 - $18.60) , although close friends or wealthy aquaintances might give NT$1000. And of course, you get something in return: oily glutinous rice (油飯), and possibly red hard-boiled eggs, cake, fried chicken, and rice-wine (?) chicken soup (雞酒).

One of the invitees to the engagement ceremony was a new coworker who has probably never even talked to the coworker who is getting engaged. When asked, he said that he gave NT$1600, and he would not attend the ceremony because he hardly knows her. When everyone else heard this, they laughed at him and berated him for his foolishness. Everyone knows that he only needed to give $1200! He went to see if he could get his red envelope back and remove the excess $400. But it was too late.

What's the price for opting out of all this reciprocity? It sounds a little dangerous, but I think I'm going to find out.


  • I was expected to give $1000 for not attending the manager of my school's wedding. My coworkers and i were not impressed. My girlfriend and i attended several weddings of her friends giving $1200-3000 depending on how close a friend they were. The cookies you get are all done up in fancy packaging but probably worth $300 max, and are not anything like western cookies. If you're really annoyed give $444 haha.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 11, 2008 7:56 AM  

  • If you really give 444, you will be thought impolite...Well I do not appreciate this idea...because 4 has the same prononciation with death and odd numbers (even digit) are not welcomed in weddings (coz it implies the couple will divorce or one of them will die young). If you do not get accustomed to the Taiwanese culture, just tell them. Giving them 444 is really malitious. I do not know the one who gave the suggestion, but I am very glad that I do not know him/her coz he/she does not know the meaning of respect.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 14, 2010 10:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home