Chap Goh Mei is celebrated on the 15th day of Chinese New Year and it is the final day of the big festive celebration. However, Chap Goh Mei is not a public holiday in Malaysia and it only serves as an observance practised by Chinese folks.
|Chap Goh Mei
Many people may be wondering “what is Chap Goh Mei?” What is the significance of this celebration after Chinese New Year? There are many interesting facts about the final day of the Chinese New Year. Although it is not an official public holiday in Malaysia, the custom remains popular marked by the Chinese locals. First off, Chap Goh Mei is a Hokkien term that carries the meaning of ‘15th night of the new year,’ while in Mandarin, it is called as Yuan Xiao Jie which means 'Prime Night Festival.'
Also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day and Lantern Festival, the traditional myth is that this is the day where single ladies would throw tangerines with their names and phone number inscribed into the rivers in search of a life partner. This historical practice believes that if someone sees the tangerines floating in the water and picked them up, the ladies who threw it would have the chance to find a good husband. In Malaysia, this tradition can be witnessed at the Esplanade in Penang where competitions are being held where boys need to scoop up the tangerines thrown by the girls from the boats.
Celebrated similarly like Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Mei festival is enjoyed with just as much festivity and bliss. Family members and close relatives will gather to have a meal together and offer prayers to God of prosperity to receive blessings and more fortune. Houses will be lit with colourful lights for the brightness to portray the happiness of Chap Goh Mei and the end of the Chinese New Year celebration.
The foods served during Chap Goh Mei are typically like the ones that are prepared for Chinese New Year. Some of the dishes include Yee Sang, dumplings and Tang Yuan. Different families might serve different types of foods; however, the feast is likewise enjoyed grandly with family members and friends.
As a prosperity dish, Yee Sang is served with various kind of ingredients and toppings which include raw fish, vegetables, radish, crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, spice powder and many more resulting to delicious flavours and textures. The Chinese dumpling is a small savoury dough that is cooked or steamed, often made in both vegetarian and boiled pork style. Tang Yuan is a type of Chinese dessert that is made from glutinous rice flour mixed in a sweet soup that is eaten to celebrate the closing of Chinese New Year.
Chinese houses will be adorned and decorated with bright lights and red lanterns to mark the end of this Lunar year celebration. People would go to the temple to send out prayers in return for more blessings.
Some towns across Malaysia offer occasional cultural performances such as lantern displays, lion dances and Chingay (flag-balancing) procession on this date. As mentioned, tangerine-throwing into the rivers is a part of the traditions as well. Hence, many unmarried women would observe this custom in the hopes of getting a good husband.
For those who would like to experience the vibrant sight and atmosphere of Chap Goh Mei festival, a visit to Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur as it is listed as one of the most recommended places. With thousands of visitors every year, this temple will gleam with colourful lights, lion dancing and other activities during the Lantern Festival.
Other than visiting the temple, Penang is where a significant Chap Goh Mei event is celebrated annually at the Esplanade which is a waterfront promenade. Aside from traditional cultural performances, visitors can also witness the single Chinese ladies doing the custom of throwing Mandarin oranges into the river.