Chap Goh Mei : What does it means aside from finding love

Chap Goh Mei means the 15th night of the Lunar New Year in Hokkien, which is also the last day of the Lunar New Year. This day is also Chinese Valentine’s Day. However, different from Western Valentine’s Day, the most popular activity is well participated by the singles. 

Photo: The Star

It is an age-old tradition for the single ladies to throw oranges with the hope of finding their ‘Mr. Right’. Single ladies will write their name and contact number on a mandarin orange and toss it into the sea or river. In modern days, some decided to provide their WeChat ID or Instagram handles instead. On the other hand, the single men will pluck out oranges from the river to get in touch with the ladies. 

Aside from finding a partner, it is also considered a fun experience to celebrate the day with the public. In Malaysia, the crowd usually gather at the following locations: 

Tanjung Harapan, Port Klang
Taman Jaya Lake, Petaling Jaya
Taman Tasik Permaisuri, Cheras
Kwang Yin Tong, Ipoh
Padang Kota Lama,  George Town

According to Malay Mail, Feng shui master Jessie Lee stated that tossing mandarin oranges is rather a sign that they are single and keen to look for a partner. Hence, the master suggested the singles post a photo of themselves holding the mandarin oranges on social media. This is seen as a better alternative to avoid the wastage of mandarin oranges and polluting the sea or river. 

Photo: Anon P on Unsplash

Aside from finding love

Chap Goh Mei is also known as the Spring Lantern Festival. Those of you who love watching the Chinese ancient dramas might already know, on the last day of Lunar New Year, everyone will carry their lanterns and go on the street. It usually very happening, with all kinds of activities going on and the street is often well decorated. Also, there will be riddles on the lanterns for the public to solve and get rewarded. 

A day for the reunion

“Yuan Xiao Jie” is another name for the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. There are different theories or stories about the origin of the day. There is one interesting story that explains why it is also a day to reunite and spend some quality time with our family. 

According to the legend, in the Han Dynasty, a girl named Yuan Xiao who lived in the palace was crying and planning to end her life. Luckily, an adviser named DongFang Shuo passed by and stopped her from jumping into a well. He then found out that she hasn't seen her family for years since she started working in the palace. 

Hence, DongFang decided to help. He left the palace, pretended to be a fortune teller and spread a rumour of a calamitous fire on the last day of Lunar New Year. The emperor was soon aware of the rumour and was feeling worried. He sought advice from DongFang. The emperor then ordered everyone to prepare the favourite food of the God of Fire which is the sweet glutinous rice balls, following the advice of DongFang. Also, to create the illusion that the city was on fire, every family hung red lanterns outside their house and set off firecrackers. 

On the last day of Lunar New Year, Yuan Xiao reunited her parents as they came to the palace to check out the lanterns. Obviously, there is no fire at the end of the day. The emperor decreed that the day shall be celebrated and people should do the same thing every year. The day should also be named after her. 

We do not know if this is valid but eating sweet glutinous balls, also known as Yuan Xiao, has been a tradition since. Not to be confused with Tang Yuan, though they are similar but are different when it comes to their making, fillings, cooking and storage. According to China Educational Tours, Yuan Xiao is rolled in a basket, with a dry and soft surface. Unlike Tang Yuan, the fillings of Yuan Xiao are solid and fruit fillings are very common nowadays. 

Make the day memorable

Since we are in the midst of a pandemic and the celebrations are cancelled, those who are keen to seek a life partner could consider the suggestion of posting a photo of you holding oranges on social media. Also, spend some quality time with the family by making Yuan Xiao together. It will definitely be a memorable experience. 

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