January 22 marks the start of the Lunar New Year 2023, a time when many in Eastern Asia and throughout the world will gather to celebrate with family and friends.
While different communities across Asia have different traditions as they relate to Lunar New Year, they share many customs, including the exchange of monetary gifts.
Many TD Branches throughout Canada will mark the Lunar New Year with in-branch activities, and TD Precious Metals has created newly designed collectible coins and bullions to mark the Year of the Rabbit. Click here to learn more about the TD Precious Metals collectible coins.
At TD Stories, we're fascinated by how people learn and think about money. That's why we spoke to colleagues throughout the Bank about how their Lunar New Year traditions taught them about when to save—and how to spend.
Here's what they shared with us:
Inside Sales Business Development Manager,
My grandparents gave me my first-ever red pocket (a red envelope filled with money). Instead of spending this money, they told me to save it. Out of respect for them, I did.
I kept this practice going until just a few years ago. My last remaining grandparent, who was nearly 100 years old, gave me a red pocket during Lunar New Year. But this time, he told me that once he was gone, he wanted me to spend it—along with the money I'd saved—on something that would bring me joy.
I took his advice to heart. My partner and I used all the money I saved as part of the down payment for our home — a space we can fill with new happy memories of our own.
Even though they're no longer with us, my grandparents' lessons continue to resonate. They not only shaped my relationship with money, but they taught me how to respect my elders and to cherish our traditions.
To celebrate the Lunar New Year – or Seollal as it's known in Korean – we always had a family service. We then gathered for lunch, and everyone would have a bowl of ddukgook, Korean rice cake soup. It's said that you can only get another year older if you finish your soup on Seollal.
After the meal, it was time for sebae, a Seollal custom where young people bow to their elders to show their respect. I dressed up in a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress, and bowed to my grandparents, parents, and uncles and aunts while wishing them happy new year. Afterwards, they gave out pocket money.
My mother saved all the money I received. At around age seven, I discovered my friends spent their Seollal money on new toys and clothes. I confronted my mom, and she showed me a bank book tracking my saved money. I had just started taking piano lessons at the time. My mother revealed she wanted to buy a piano with my savings.
A few weeks later, we went shopping. I was so excited to tell the salesperson that I was buying the piano myself. It made me appreciate the instrument even more.
We moved to Canada 20 years ago and brought the piano with us. It's still in my living room today. I don't play it as often as I used to, but my daughter will start taking lessons soon.
Nhat Anh (Andrew) Chu,
Resource Officer II – Second Level Support | TD Direct Investing, Markham, Ont.
My family's Lunar New Year celebrations start when we make Chung cake together – a Vietnamese dish that helps us give thanks to our ancestors. We all sit around sharing stories from the past year as we form the cakes – which are made from fragrant rice, creamy green beans and tender pork all wrapped in bamboo leaves – before cooking them in big pots for eight to 12 hours.
Afterwards, we shop for kumquat trees or peach blossoms, both popular Lunar New Year decorations in Vietnam that symbolize wealth, health and good luck.
The moment I cherished most as a child was when my elders handed out red envelopes, or lucky money, to wish the younger generation a prosperous year filled with good fortune.
Many of my friends would spend their money, but my parents opened a savings account with my lucky money. This account and its compounded interest would eventually help fund my higher education in Canada, which was my first exposure to investing. I feel so fortunate to have learned the value of investing from my parents.
Pacific, Asian Community | TD Wealth, Vancouver B.C.
The life lessons I learned from elders at family Lunar New Year gatherings have helped me in all aspects of my adult life, including managing my finances.
I still remember playing 'Fish, Shrimp, Crab', a betting game that involves three dice with fish, shrimp and crab symbols. Adults typically let children play using candies for betting, rather than real money. I used to bet with candies from the chuen hub (candy box) on one outcome and would either win—or lose—big. Later, I learned that diversifying my bet would be the safer option. I translated this experience into my personal investments and have a diversified portfolio to help maintain and grow my savings.
Lunar New Year foods are rich with symbolism (and flavour). I still miss all the authentic Chiu Chau-style dishes my grandmother made, especially her deep-fried, sliced taro. Many families also make a sweet rice dessert called lin gou (steamed rice cake). Lin gou sounds like 'growing every year,' which we love to associate with many things in life, such as our assets and savings—may they continue growing.