Happy Chap Goh Meh!
I know how Malaysian love their holidays and their celebrations. So that’s why it’s sad that this year’s Chinese New Year is coming to an end!
But don’t grieve just yet, because today is the 15th of the first lunar calendar month and the final day of CNY.
Today, it’s Chap Goh Meh!
Have you heard about Chap Goh Meh? If you are Malaysian, I’m sure you would have.
Would you like to learn more about the day? I’ll be happy to share with you if you’d like.
1. The name
Chap Goh Meh is a Hokkien term that means the 15th night of the new year, which is why it’s celebrated on the 15th and final day of CNY. In Mandarin, it’s called Yuan Xiao Jie （元宵节）, which means Prime Night Festival.
2. The origins of Chap Goh Meh
The festival’s origins are uncertain, as there are many legends surrounding it.
But one of the legends has always stayed in my mind.
Once, there was a beautiful crane that flew down to earth from Heaven, where it was killed by some villagers. This angered the Jade Emperor as it was his favourite crane and he planned a firestorm to destroy the village on the 15th lunar new year.
The villagers were in turmoil, when a wise man suggested that they hang red lanterns and explode firecrackers on the streets, which gave off an appearance of being on fire. The Jade Emperor, having tricked into thinking the village was already ablaze, decided not to burn it down.
From then on, people celebrated every 15th lunar new year by repeating the act of carrying lanterns and exploding firecrackers.
That was just one of the many unique origin stories for the day. I like this the best though.
3. Lanterns play a big part on Chap Goh Meh
Chap Goh Meh, also known as the Lantern Festival (not to be confused with the Mid-Autumn Festival by the way).
One of the main activities during Chap Goh Meh is to solve riddles written on lanterns. There are even competitions held in order to see who has the biggest or the most intricate lanterns.
Other than that, you will also see many homes gaily decorated with red lanterns and bright lights to mark the end of an auspicious occasion.
Lantern Festival in Taiwan.
4. It’s akin to Chinese Valentine’s Day
It’s almost like being on Tinder, except you’ll find love through oranges during Chap Goh Meh.
On the night of Chap Goh Meh, young singletons out for true love would write their name and contact details on mandarin oranges and toss them into the river, hoping that a person of the opposite sex would scoop them up and make contact.
If you’re looking for a suitable partner, prepare a mandarin orange and find a river. I wish you to meet your Mr/Ms. Right tonight!
If you’re up in Penang, Malaysia, don’t forget to head on to the Esplanade to participate in the state’s annual festival!
5. You must eat Tang Yuan tonight
What is the IT food that you must have during Chap Goh Meh? Definitely Tang Yuan (Glutinous rice balls)!
It’s a symbolic dessert for the Chinese, as it represents reunion, family and good ties.
After you’ve read these 5 facts, I hope you now have a better understanding of this special day!