Over a billion people are expected to celebrate Chinese New Year
tomorrow. Many have been preparing for the celebrations for days and a key aspect of the holiday involves people cleaning their homes, a tradition called "sweeping the dust" which symbolizes the removal of misfortune and the welcoming of something new. When all of the cleaning is finally complete, homes are decorated with posters and red lanterns before revellers enjoy spectacular fireworks and firecrackers. Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the world's biggest party with red envelopes or hóngbāo central to the festivities.
In China and other Southeast Asian societies, a red envelope is a monetary gift exchanged during holidays or special occasions. Over the past couple of the years, the tradition has gone digital with Tencent and Alibaba both offering virtual red envelopes. The digital version has caught on and last year, the number exchanged on WeChat
was an impressive 46.6 billion - the equivalent of 33 envelopes full of cash for every person in China. That's a huge increase on 2016 when the red envelope count came to 8 billion.