Lucky Money (压岁钱, Ya Sui Qian) is an essential ingredient in China's Spring Festival. Lucky Money has a long history. Its origination can be traced back to the Han Dynasty. It was originally called Ya Sheng Qian. Ya Sheng Qian was not the coin in circulation. It was just shaped as coins. People at that time wore it and took it as a lucky talisman. In the Tang Dynasty, it was a convention prevailing at imperial court to give out money as a gift for one’s relatives, friends in Spring Festival. Later in Song and Yuan Dynasty, the convention became popular among the civilians and some changes took place. People began to give money as a gift to children. Therefore precisely speaking, Lucky Money came into being in the Song or Yuan Dynasty.

Then why was it renamed Ya Sui Qian ? It was because the character “岁”, which means “year”, pronounces the same with the character “祟”, which means “evil spirit”. The ancient Chinese believed children were generally weaker than adults and as a result easier to get hurt by the evil spirits. Ya Sui Qian symbolized an amulet that could hold down the evil spirits. People gave Lucky Money to children in Spring Festival, the beginning of a Chinese New Year, hoping that the kids could pass the year and grew up safely. However, nowadays, the superstitious meaning of Lucky Money weakens and it is merely a gift to delight the youngsters.

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