The Role of Cash in Celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri

May 2, 2022

As Muslims worldwide mark Eid al-Fitr—the conclusion of the one month fast of Ramadan—we take a look at the role of cash in Malaysia’s traditional celebrations, and how it helps children learn about managing money.

Duit raya—money presented to children during Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the festival of fast breaking—is a tradition with multicultural roots. Some believe it was borrowed from the Chinese custom of gifting money in red envelopes to mark Lunar New Year, weddings and funerals. Duit raya is also presented in an envelope, though the colour is green, and it is often decorated with leaf patterns.

Writing for The Rakyat Post, journalist Tasneem Nazari acknowledges this potential origin, but points out the tradition is also consistent with the Islamic practice of giving money to charity, considered one of the most favourable acts a person can perform. It is particularly emphasised during Ramadan, with people expected to give money to those in poverty at the end of the month, as the fast reminds everyone of the hardships poor people experience.

Selamat Hari Raya! Maaf Zahir dan Batin. (Happy Hari Raya! I seek forgiveness from you.)
"Traditional Malay Eid greeting

Exploring ways to spend duit raya, lifestyle website Have Halal, Will Travel suggests everything from enjoying meals out or investing in self-improvement to charitable donations. It also proposes saving it and putting it towards a larger financial goal. This is in line with how many Malaysian parents use duit raya cash to help teach children about managing their finances.

ALFA and Friends—a provider of pre-school STEM education resources—recommends parents let small children handle their duit raya by themselves, encouraging them to keep it in a safe place and spend it as they want to, with the goal of ‘teaching them to be responsible and accountable for their own money’. It also suggests counting duit raya can be a fun way to reinforce maths skills.

Shopping with their own money will show [children] its value and teach them if they decide to spend on one thing, they might not be able to spend on another.
"How ‘Duit Raya’ Makes Your Toddler Money Smart, ALFA and Friends
Last Updated: May 1, 2022