Money as an object of gift-giving

Topics: Giving, Chinese New Year, Money Pages: 2 (525 words) Published: October 10, 2013

“Money, medium of market exchange par excellence, should not be the object of gift-giving.”

Money performs at least two distinct functions of high importance: acting as a medium of exchange and a common measure of value. Being accustomed to exchange things frequently for sums of money, people learn the value of other articles in terms of money, so that all exchanges will most readily be calculated and adjusted by comparison of the money values of the things exchanged. However, it would be wrong to consider money as only serving commercial exchange. As we might already know from non-western societies, there are some transactions involving money, e.g. bride wealth or blood wealth, where in these cases money is serving as a mean of payment and not of purchase, and also that money is a substitute rather than an equivalent.

Hart (2005) argued that relations marked by the absence of money are the model of personal integration and free association, of what we take to be familiar, the inside. But, on the other hand money as we all know is acknowledged as a par excellence for exchange. In that sense money might as well serve as an object involved in gift-giving, because then it is considered useful for the receiver later on, since they might sooner or later use it as a form of exchange. Besides, money allows avoiding the exchange of objects of the same nature, which conforms to the principle of reciprocity in gift-giving.

In Chinese and other Asian societies, a red envelope or red packet is a monetary gift which is given during holidays or special occasions. Red envelopes are mainly presented at social and family gatherings such as weddings or on holidays such as the Lunar New Year. Malay Muslims in Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Singapore have adapted the Chinese custom of handing out monetary gifts in envelopes as part of their Eid al-Fitr celebrations, but instead of red packets, green envelopes are used, as green represents the colour of Muslim. The...
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