Chap Goh Mei Finding Love With An Orange Toss In 2023
Chap Goh Mei in Hokkien means the 15th night of the lunar new year.
It is also celebrated as Yuan Xiao Jie or the Lantern Festival.
Just like the eve of Chinese New Year, the climax of the Spring Festival is a grand affair.
The Lantern Festival is an important festival signifying the end of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations.
On this day, red lanterns are typically put up in their place to celebrate the first full moon.
TravelStylus investigates the history of Chap Goh Mei, its meaning, the festival’s customs, and how it’s celebrated.
The customs and ceremonies of Chap Goh Meh are the subjects of numerous legends and folklore, just like other holidays.
Folklore says that young girls were not allowed to leave the house except on Chap Goh Mei when they visited temples with their servants.
The opportunity for the males to peek at these attractive maidens appeals to them.
1. Chap Goh Mei’s Origins
There are many beliefs about how Chap Goh Mei came about.
The Jade Emperor or Yudi in Chinese culture, traditional religions, and myths is one of the representations of the first god.
The Jade Emperor intended to unleash a firestorm on the village on the 15th day of the lunar year after his beloved pet crane crashed on Earth and was killed by villagers.
A wise man advised the villagers to hang red lanterns and let off firecrackers to make it appear like their homes were already on fire to avoid Yudi’s wrath.
Satisfied, the Emperor left the village unharmed, and locals celebrated the 15th day of every lunar year by lighting lanterns on the streets and firing fireworks.
2. Chinese Valentine’s Day
In the past, on Chap Goh Mei, unmarried women would write their names on tangerines, then toss them into rivers or the sea.
The ladies do this hoping that they would scoop up the orange and find them, enabling these single women to marry good husbands.
Chap Goh Meh is known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day because women hope to find love this way.
However, in the era of modern technology, this custom is gradually disappearing, especially in Malaysia’s cities.
Nowadays, young people meet someone online than courting like their grandparents.
3. Tricky Lanterns Riddles
Guessing lantern riddles is one of the festival’s attractions.
In ancient days, lantern owners wrote riddles on notes pasted on colourful lanterns.
People will swarm around these lanterns to solve the riddles.
They can pull the note off the lantern when they believe they have the correct answer.
The lantern owner checks their answers, and a small gift is typically provided if they guess it right.
Solving lantern puzzles gained popularity during the Song Dynasty (960–1279).
What is the food you must eat during Chap Goh Mei? There are two, the Tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) and Nyonya Pengat.
4. Eating Tangyuan
Eating Tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) is a symbolic dessert.
Tangyuan is a glutinous rice ball stuffed with red bean paste, sesame, or peanut filling.
The Tangyuan’s rounded shape represents reunion, family unity, and good relations for the Chinese, especially for Hokkien.
Tangyuan is often consumed at home or with family and friends during the Lantern Festival.
5. Eating Nyonya Pengat (Sweet Broth)
Pengat is a traditional Nyonya delicacy made using tuber and sweet ripe bananas cooked in coconut milk and sugar.
The delicious dessert is served warm with various ingredients that give it a vibrant appearance.
Pengat originated in Malay cuisine and was adopted into the Peranakan cuisine and provided a sweet ending to Chinese New Year during Chap Goh Mei.
6. Chap Goh Mei Dinner
Unlike the reunion dinner on the eve of the Lunar New Year, families living under one roof traditionally have dinner together on Chap Goh Mei.
The tradition is believed to help strengthen family ties in the new year and build harmonious family relationships in the next year.
7. Prayers at temples
To mark the end of the Lunar New Year festival, families also go to temples to pray for a smooth year ahead.
Taoists will pray to the Jade Emperor, the ruler of heaven and the god responsible for good fortune.
His birthday falls on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month.
8. Chap Goh Mei in Kuala Lumpur
Visitors to Kuala Lumpur may visit Thean Hou Temple to experience the festive atmosphere of the Chap Goh Mei festivities.
Visitors, especially tourists, will be drawn to the temple’s architecture as pilgrims pray to the three goddesses, Thean Hou, the Goddess of the Seas, Wei Mei, and the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin).
Visitors will witness a vibrant exhibition of lion dances and beautifully lighted red lanterns throughout the festivities.
Chinese people would swarm the main temple shrine to worship the gods and ask for favors.
In addition, for good luck and health, visitors to the temple will also sip “holy water” from the Kuan Yin fountain.
Tourists can take photographs of the dragon-inspired columns and pagoda rooftops.
9. Chap Goh Mei in Penang
Penang island is famous for its luxurious beach resorts, mouth-watering street food, and vibrant festivals.
The state keeps the Chap Goh Mei tradition alive as a major celebration in George Town.
The Chap Goh Meh celebration is held at the Esplanade, an iconic waterfront promenade every year.
Along with the lion dance and other traditional cultural events, hawker stands were set up along the streets.
At the Esplanade, you can see optimistic Chinese girls tossing tangerines into the water to find a good husband.
10. Dondang Sayang Chap Goh Mei
Penang Straits Chinese Dondang Sayang Club was established in 1954, and a decorated bus takes to the streets of George Town during Chap Goh Mei.
Dondang Sayang is a traditional poetic art form mainly associated with Malaysia’s Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese) communities.
On the renowned Dondang Sayang bus, performers and members of the State Chinese Penang Association would tour George Town city while having a good time!
The Baba Nyonya celebrates the night of love and romance with Asli songs (folk songs) and traditional Malay dances like the Ronggeng, Joget, and Balas Pantun (Reciprocating the poem).
THE the last day of the Chinese New Year, also called Chap Goh Meh, has come – it stands for the first full moon of the new lunar year, the 15th day.
If you plan to visit Malaysia, especially Penang, look out for all the fun activities in George Town!
Happy Chap Goh Mei!