What’s Behind Gifting A Chinese New Year 2 Dollar Bill?

Opening a crimson envelope for Lunar New Year and finding a fresh $2 Federal Reserve Note (also known as a two-dollar bill) is quite exciting, especially for children. With a few thousand fewer banknotes in circulation than the $50, you won’t see them very often. Could there be anything special behind the Chinese New Year 2 Dollar Bill?

Gifting 2 dollar bills on the Chinese New Year stems from ancient practices of giving money on the Lunar New Year and from the high view of luck in Chinese culture and religions. Giving money as gifts is a Chinese sign of wishes of prosperity. Even numbers and red envelopes signify good fortune.

As you read the following sections, you’ll learn more about the 2 dollar bill Chinese new year tradition and more.


Why Are Chinese New Year Envelopes Red?

Have you ever seen those little red envelops in Chinese gift shops, restaurants, or Chinese ethnic areas of major cities? There is a significance to the color red in Chinese culture. What does it mean and why are envelopes around Chinese New Year celebrations red?

The red envelopes are part of the traditional Chinese New Year celebration. The color red symbolizes good luck and prosperity. In addition to being used in China, the custom has spread throughout Asia and even to other parts of the world where luck is considered an important part of reality. 

Red symbolizes prosperity and good luck in Chinese cultures and religion, so you can interpret a red envelope gift as good wishes from the giver. It is a sentiment of best wishes like greeting cards convey in Western cultures.

Red is included on envelopes as a sign that the giver wishes good luck and prosperity to the one receiving the envelope or gift. Many times around the Chinese New Year celebrations around the world the envelope will contain small gifts.

As with our topic here, sometimes that gift will be a $2 bill. This usually only happens in the United States and is not always the practice.

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How Do I Get SPECIAL Chinese New Year 2 Dollar Bills?

There are many ways to get your hands on these special bills. You can buy them directly from the BEP. You can also ask friends who work at banks or post offices. They might be able to help you.

If you would like the easiest way to get them I have listed Amazon links below and you can have them delivered directly to your door.

Or you can get all 12 of the animal collection in one package.

However, its best to wait until after Chinese New Year before trying to get ordinary $2 bills ahead of the next year. After all, the competition for these notes is high when celebrations are close, and people spend them right after.

Also, you don’t need to save up to get them as they are still worth their face value even though they are less popular than others. So, you can give them out without worrying about losing money. It is also safe to keep your $2 bills for as long as you wish without fear of devaluation since they mean so much for the Chinese New Year.

Why Do the Chinese Give Out 2 Dollar Bills For Chinese New Year?

In ancient times, people would give out money to represent wealth and abundance. They would also use it to pay their respects at temples and shrines. This practice came to be called “giving money on the first day of the lunar calendar.”

Today, the tradition continues by giving out 2 dollar bills on Chinese New Year. You may wonder why they’re more special than common bills like $5 or $50. It’s because money represents prosperity and good fortune as a symbol and the amount is not as important.

The red paper, not the money inside, is the significance of red envelopes. Wrapping fortune money in red envelopes is thought to bring the recipients additional happiness and blessings. $2 bills, on the other hand, are considered lucky, therefore giving them to children is a nice idea.

Chinese people believe that good things always come in twos, so a two-dollar bill is great lucky money.  But, never make the mistake of giving out sums of 4 or any unlucky number. 4 sounds like death in Chinese, so any number with 4 in it is forbidden.

When giving out $2 bills, ensure that they are new and have no stains or tears. The newness is significant and adds to the belief in sending luck and fresh blessings to the receiver.

Those intending to give only $2 hongbao for the Chinese New Year may want to reconsider: Some believe that this quantity is no longer sufficient.

Chinese New Year 2 Dollar Bills – Why Is It So Rare?

In the United States, it’s rare to find a $2 Federal Reserve Note because they’re not printed every year. Yet, there are special printings of embossed Chinese New Year legal tender two dollar bills and one dollar bills that can be special ordered.

Two dollar bills are not printed every year like other denominations. The Federal Reserve’s print order for all fiscal years with the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) does not contain any $2 notes. This makes the $2 note even more rare in some years over others.

It’s a rather typical occurrence. The Fed’s print order is based on local and international cash demand projections. New money is used to replace worn and torn notes that have been removed from circulation.

People like to hold on to the $2 because they believe it is rare. So instead, they use more common denominations such as $5, $10, $50, and $100. In other words, because $2 bills aren’t used frequently, the Federal Reserve only orders them every 2–4 years and not yearly.

Should I Give $2  as Lucky Money This Chinese New Year?

If you want to share lucky money this year, you should consider giving $2 and above. If you decide to give a $2, you need to avoid using numbers with four in them. That includes 4, 44, 444, etc.

As mentioned above, Chinese New Year 2 dollar bills are very rare. There are only about 1 million of them in existence. To put that into perspective, there are over 3 billion $1 bills in circulation. This means that you might have to gather the notes early enough.

It is possible to get some notes from online sellers on eBay or other stores. Also, you can get them from the bank if you are lucky enough. However, these are not guaranteed, and you will need to spend time looking for them.

You can increase your chances of getting enough $2 to share by buying a few packs of lucky money a few months early. For example, if you try to buy 10 packs of $2 bills in November, you might stand a better chance of getting that quantity than when you buy late.

Can I Give Out Other Dollar Bills On Chinese New Year?

If giving money is a symbol of prosperity itself, and the number 2 is a separate designation of luck, can I someone give other denominations of money for a Chinese New Year gift?

Yes, you can give out other dollar bills on Chinese New Year. You just need to be careful with what you choose and avoid the notes or sums with 4 in them. For example, you could give out $20 or $50 bills instead of $2. But again, don’t give away too much at once.

This is also true for other currencies. You can give out the equivalent of $20 Hong Kong dollars, but you shouldn’t give out more than $200 HKD. It is the symbol that is important and not the actual amount, unless the number 4 appears. Yet, this is a separate issue of bad luck and not specifically related to giving out money and its meaning.

Wrapping Up Chinese New Year 2 Dollar Bills…

Chinese New Year is one of the most important holidays in China. It is based on family reunions and good luck. People celebrate by visiting relatives and eating traditional food.

Giving out lucky $2 bills is only of the many ways to spread love during the celebration.

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