Traditions Cambodians do with money

I was showing my different currency bills I had in my wallet to a friend, when he asked what kind of traditions we have that involve using money. Thus, this blog post is dedicated to that.

Welcoming a wedding parade

During a wedding, early in the morning (at around 6AM), the groom and the wedding guests do a parade around the bride’s house, and at the end of the parade, as they enter the house, they are given a package that has money inside, as a gift.

Money Tree

P.C. -

P.C. –

FYI, Cambodia uses both Khmer Riel and US dollars. The money tree looks something similar to the picture. During religious ceremonies, Buddhists would make money trees and give them to the monks in the pagoda. They believe this will give them a better next life.

Chance to make a wish come true

In some temples, there is a deep well, without water in it; inside that well, there is another hole that is much smaller. People throw money into the well and if the money falls into the inner hole, it is a sign that they can make a wish and it will come true. It is difficult to make the money fall into that little hole, because we don’t use coins in Cambodia, and thus, paper money is really light and usually flies away from the hole.

Money in clay

Little boy hitting clay

Little boy hitting clay

As a Khmer New Year celebration, clay pot hitting is a must. Inside each clay, there can be powder, candies, money, etc. Participants are blindfolded from a certain distance and after 3 rotations around themselves, they have to wander to where the clay pots are and attempt to hit one. If the clay pot breaks,  whatever falls out will be theirs.

Oily pillar

This is also part of the Khmer New Year celebration. People apply oil to a pillar in the temple, and at the top of that pillar, there is money. If anyone can climb to the top of the oily pillar, they can take the money. I don’t think it is possible in any way to get the money, but I suppose people have fun; I have never tried.

Coin in the mouth of the dead

When somebody passes away, a coin is placed on their tongue. The monks would preach to everyone in the funeral that no one can take money with them when they die, not even that coin in their mouth. Thus, people should not be greedy when alive. Instead, they should use money to help the poor. Although Cambodia doesn’t use coins anymore, older people still have coins, and use them as part of the funeral.

Money Origami

Money heart origami

Money heart origami

People like folding money into shapes, especially a heart, and keep it in their wallet. I can’t remember how I got that heart origami shown in the picture (I definitely did not know how to fold that), but I’ve had it in my wallet for at least 5 years. Many people keep it to remind themselves of an event or of someone. However, I keep it simply for wallet decoration.

$2 Lucky money

This is quite a recent tradition and I think we are influenced by people in the United States. People keep $2 bills inside their wallet because they believe it brings them good luck. I also have one inside my wallet, but mainly it’s for my wallet decoration.

What do you think?

Our Correspondent
Cult Cambodia correspondent
Vilayvann -

Born and raised in the debris of the French colony in Cambodia, I grew up to be the least girlish girl or the most manly girl in the world, as described by my friends, just because I never had dolls or those ...

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About this place

Continent: Asia
Capital: Phnom Penh
Population: 14,453,700
Area: 181,040 km2
Currency: Riels
Languages: Khmer

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