World

Glimpse of Chinese New Year: Red envelopes mean luck for some, temporary income for others

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, Maman Rohman, 32, center, sells red envelopes locally known as "ang pao" which are used to give money as gifts during Chinese New Year celebrations, at a market in Tangerang, in the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia. Rohman, like many other Indonesians, temporarily leave their hometowns and jobs to come to the capital to earn extra money as the Lunar New Year is celebrated by Indonesia's ethnic-Chinese minority.  A farmer from Kuningan, West Java, Rohman said, “I have come here every year since 1992 … to sell “ang pao,” which could get me up to 200,000 rupiah ($17) a day. Not bad at all for a few days of work.” Rohman said business this year is a bit quiet. “Maybe the Year of the Sheep is just not my year. I got more money last time, so I just hope that next year would be better for me."  (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, Maman Rohman, 32, center, sells red envelopes locally known as "ang pao" which are used to give money as gifts during Chinese New Year celebrations, at a market in Tangerang, in the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia. Rohman, like many other Indonesians, temporarily leave their hometowns and jobs to come to the capital to earn extra money as the Lunar New Year is celebrated by Indonesia's ethnic-Chinese minority. A farmer from Kuningan, West Java, Rohman said, “I have come here every year since 1992 … to sell “ang pao,” which could get me up to 200,000 rupiah ($17) a day. Not bad at all for a few days of work.” Rohman said business this year is a bit quiet. “Maybe the Year of the Sheep is just not my year. I got more money last time, so I just hope that next year would be better for me." (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)  (The Associated Press)

Standing under a tarp-covered alley with vendors selling chicken, meatballs, and vegetables, Maman Rohman displays bundles of red envelopes traditionally used to give gifts of money symbolizing luck during Chinese New Year celebrations. They're known as "hong bao" in China, but "ang pao" here in Indonesia.

This photo by Associated Press photographer Dita Alangkara tells the story of how Rohman, like many other Indonesians, temporarily leave their hometowns and jobs to earn extra money as the Lunar New Year is celebrated by Indonesia's ethnic-Chinese minority.

Rohman, a 32-year-old farmer, works a small corner in a fresh market built around a Chinese temple in Tangerang, a Jakarta suburb. He's done this every year since he was 9 and says he earns up to 200,000 rupiah ($17) per day. "Not bad at all for a few days of work," he adds.

Rohman is not ethnic Chinese but Sundanese, an ethnic group native to the western part of Java island. His home in Kuningan, West Java, is about a 270-kilometer (170-mile) drive from the capital.

Carrying the lucky red packets on a rattan tray strapped over his shoulder, Rohman says business this year is a bit quiet. "Maybe the Year of the Sheep is just not my year. I got more money last time, so I just hope that next year would be better for me," he says.

Each day this week, the AP will showcase a single Chinese New Year-themed photo from around the Asia-Pacific region, illustrating what China's biggest holiday means to the country and its extensive Chinese diaspora.