Every year, businesses throughout Asia treat their employees to a special banquet to celebrate Wei Ya (尾牙). In modern times, people focus more on the aspects of increasing business and profit over the tradition of praying to the earth god. At minimum, most companies will invite their employees to a very nice dinner at an above average restaurant- no McDonald’s for this festival! While there are some traditional foods that are commonly associated with Wei Ya, such as a specialty spring roll with pork, peanut, and Chinese pickle, it’s more common now for companies to find a nice restaurant to hold the banquet and skip the traditional food.
Most companies also have drawings for nice prizes and depending on the size of your company, cash bonuses. People who work for large international companies can expect things like flat screen TVs, motorcycles, and sometimes even cars to be a potential prize. Most average sized companies, however, keep it simple with little red envelopes with varying amounts of cash.
While in most countries people might complain about a mandatory work related dinner, most people in Asia very much look forward to the Wei Ya celebration. It’s a chance for people to share in FREE food (at minimum) and potentially winning a nice prize. If you are teaching English in China or Taiwan, most schools hold a simple gathering or party (don’t expect a shiny new car). It’s worth mentioning that not all employers celebrate Wei Ya. Remember that it’s a celebration aimed at encouraging employees to increase business, so don’t expect this celebration if you work for a hospital or funeral home.