Chap Goh Meh 2021 Celebrations in Malaysia 1

Chap Goh Meh 2021 Celebrations in Malaysia

Chap Goh Meh 2021 Celebrations in Malaysia

Chap Goh Meh not Chap Goh Mei to the Hokkien Chinese in Penang means the Fifteenth Night.

For the Chinese community in Malaysia, the Chinese New Year marks the start of a new beginning of the Lunar Month of the Spring Festival.

As the eve of Chinese New Year is celebrated with a big bang, the climax of this festival on the 15th night is also a grand affair.

Chap Goh Meh in the Hokkien dialect translates as ‘Chap Goh’ translates to ‘Fifteen’ and ‘Meh’ means ‘Night’.

The Chinese community observes Chap Goh Meh (Lantern Festival)

In the Hokkien dialect, it simply means the 15th night of the New Year.

Yuan Xiao Jie (元宵节), means Prime Night Festival is an important festival signifying the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

As in other celebrations, there are many legends and stories about the traditions and celebrations which explains why Chap Goh Meh is also regarded as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

An auspicious date before Tinder, there were mandarin oranges!

Mandarin Oranges, Tangerines and Clementines may share many of the same characteristics but the arme de choix or weapon of choice is always the Mandarin Orange.

On the night of the Chinese Valentine, with the full moon shining down, young ladies of marrying age venture out to popular sea promenades to throw oranges into the sea in the hope of finding their true love.

What Is Chap Goh Meh And Why Is It Important?

Chap Goh Meh is a night of courtship.

Back in the day when Chinese maidens are not allowed to venture out on their own unaccompanied by a chaperone, matchmakers or marriage brokers are the go to to find a suitable marriage partner.

On Chap Goh Meh nights, they would take the young women to throw oranges into the sea.

Young men looking for a suitable life partner would take mental notes, and their families would arrange for a matchmaker to propose.

This was a precious time when love was written on an orange.

What is the origin of Chap Goh Meh?

According to legends, “There was a beautiful crane that flew down to earth from Heaven, and some villagers killed it.

This angered the Jade Emperor as it was his favourite crane, and he planned a firestorm to destroy the village on the 15th lunar day.

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.

Being tricked into thinking the village was already ablaze, the Jade Emperor decided not to burn it down.

From then on, people celebrated every 15th lunar day by repeating the act of carrying lanterns and exploding firecrackers.”

Chap Goh Meh Lanterns

The Lantern Festival, also called Yuan Xiao Festival, is a holiday celebrated in China and other Asian countries that honour deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month (Yuan) of the lunar calendar.

The Lantern Festival aims to promote reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness.

In ancient times, the lanterns were relatively simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones.

One of the major activities during Chap Goh Meh is to solve riddles written on the elaborate lanterns.

There are even competitions held to see who has the biggest or the most intricate lanterns.

In the early days, they chaperoned young people in the streets hoping to find true love.

Marriage brokers acted busily hoping to pair up couples.

The brightest lanterns were symbolic of good luck and hope.

In modern times the festival is Dating Apps now replaces more of a celebration as marriage brokers.

Chap Goh Meh 2021 Celebrations in Malaysia

Source: Wikipedia -The Lantern Festival

Is Chap Goh Meh the Chinese equivalent to Valentine’s Day?

Many singles would write their name and contact details on mandarin oranges’ skin and hope this ancient practice will attract a suitable partner of the opposite sex to scoop up the “love orange” and make contact.

Chap Goh Meh is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

Not wanting to break with the age-old Chinese tradition, many single women look forward to throwing oranges into the sea, hoping to find love on Chap Goh Meh night.

In the past, young Chinese ladies would Toss Mandarin Orange with their phone numbers written on the oranges into the sea, wishing for a suitable match.

Decades ago, the Chap Goh Meh Celebration was a coveted event where unmarried Nyonya women could go out accompanied by a family member.

They would dress in their best kebayas to either to throw oranges or to meet their sweethearts.

Your mother and aunts may tell you stories that they would hope that a prospective suitor will pick it up and get in touch.

Back in the day of your grandmother’s time, it was more of getting a marriage broker to find a suitable match.

Our grandparents’ time capsule version has a charming feel far more romantic than swiping on Dating Apps on your mobile phone.

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Malaysia

Writing phone numbers on oranges. Image credit: SevenPie.com

The Tossing of Mandarins during Chap Goh Meh

In ancient times, females of marriageable age could not step out of their homes except on this day – when the emperor had decreed everyone must carry a lantern and go out to deceive the God of Fire.

As time passed, many young ladies would take this chance and make their way to the temples, dressed in their best, hoping to find prospective suitors.

Young men would gather around hoping to catch a glimpse of a potential match.

There was hardly a chance to seize an opportunity to get to know the lady in person.

Catching glimpses and exchanging smiles would quicken hearts and pulses in those days.

Legend has it that a matchmaker from the moon would tie red strings of destiny on their legs on this day, binding them together for life.

A match made in heaven is one that will carry you through your days here on earth.

If a young man finds someone to his liking, he then hires a matchmaker to act on his behalf for the lady’s hand in marriage.

The throwing of mandarin oranges into the sea by single women is, without a doubt, the most popular and colourful moment of the Chap Goh Meh festival.

Interestingly, this practice was originated from Penang Island in the 19th century.

Let’s throw an orange!

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Malaysia

Ladies let’s throw an orange into the sea for a good husband!

Chap Goh Meh wishes for the 15th day of Chinese New Year.

Most wishes are happy and cheerful, with smiles as you greet each other.

  • “Best of Luck”
  • “May you find your life partner.”
  • “Wishing you love and affinity.”
  • “Happy Chap Goh Meh”
  •  恭祝大家元宵节快乐

Chap Goh Meh Celebratory Dessert – Peranakan Pengat

In the tradition of Babas and Nyonyas, the Peranakan Chinese mark this night with an ancestral prayer at the temple and at home.

On the fifteenth day, the Nyonyas prepare “Pengat” a delicious traditional sweet dessert that is traditionally made and served on Chap Goh Meh.

The Pengat is sweetened coconut broth with several differences from the more common Bubur Cha Cha sold at hawker centres.

Bubur Cha Cha’s ingredients include root vegetables with the addition of brightly chewy stretchy tapioca gems and sago pearls.

Bubur Cha Cha.

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Malaysia

The Malay community has a delicious Pengat Pisang, which I adore! Photo: Doris Lim

The Malay community has a delicious Pengat Pisang, which I adore!

I couldn’t agree more. In my family, we won’t make Pengat until and unless we have the prized Pisang Rajah – an expensive banana prized for its sweetness and aroma.

Other types of bananas like Pisang Mas and Pisang Berangan don’t quite cut in terms of flavour and texture.

Most importantly, please don’t use the ordinary Cavendish bananas (found in all hypermarkets) for this dessert.

While the Peranakans in Singapore and Malacca use Gula Melaka, the Penangites use white sugar in their version.

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Malaysia

The Peranakan community celebrate with Pengat for Chap Goh Meh in Malaysia.

I prefer to use white sugar as this doesn’t overpower the fragrance of the Santan.

For the Santan broth, a light boil will ensure that it doesn’t “Pecah Minyak.” As all the ingredients are pre-cooked, I prefer to heat the thick Santan and add the syrup to serve.

The consistency of a perfect Santan broth is thick with the flavours from the Coconut Milk.

The Chap Goh Meh Pengat is more elaborated in the number of ingredients, including precooked root vegetables cut diagonally.

  • Yellow Sweet Potatoes
  • Orange Sweet Potatoes
  • Purple Sweet Potatoes
  • Yam or Taro
  • Black-eyed Peas
  • Sago pearls
  • Tapioca Jelly Gems
  • Nain Gao or Thnee Kueh (Kueh Bakul)
  • Fresh thick Coconut Milk
  • Knotted Daun Pandan (Screw pine leaves for flavouring)

Thnee Kueh (Kueh Bakul) is the key ingredient, cut in the same diamond shape as the other ingredients, and added to the dessert.

To heat the Santan Broth, add coconut milk, salt, granulated sugar, knotted Pandan leaves.

Stir and heat through and be careful not to let the Coconut Milk come to a BOIL.

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Malaysia

On auspicious Chap Goh Meh evening, families gather for a meal.

Once dinner is over, the locals will gather at temples to celebrate the last day of Chinese New Year on a grander scale with the night set ablaze with fireworks.

If you drive around, you will see many homes and temples gaily decorated with red lantern displays and bright lights to mark the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

You will witness cultural performances, lanterns, lion dances, firecrackers, and beautiful fireworks.

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Malaysia

Image credit: Roven Images on Unsplash

Chap Goh Meh Match Making

One of the fun activities that people will typically do is match-making.

Parents would send their daughters out with chaperones.

So, men and women would take the opportunity to meet their future spouses on Chap Goh Meh Night and they consider this a romantic night.

Historically, Hokkien men would throw small drums into the water while the women would toss Mandarin Orange.

The Hokkien saying is Tin Kam Keh Ho Ang (Toss Mandarin Orange in the water, you will marry a good husband) which sometimes translates to marrying a man of wealth.

Young unmarried ladies will Toss Mandarin Orange into the sea/river/stream.

Back in the days, girls grew up believing that throwing mandarin oranges into the sea on this day will bring them a good spouse.

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Malaysia

Image credit: Juice Work Facebook Page

Chap Goh Meh Ditty

Throw good orange land, a good husband.

Throw good apple, find a good wife.

Throw a stone; build a “bungalow house.”

Throw a red date (fruit); good things abound.

Source: Sylvia Toh Paik Choo, The Complete Eh, Goondu! NATIONAL BESTSELLER From the Guru of Singlish

Where are the hot spots to toss an orange on Chap Goh Meh?

This activity is popular in Penang and around the Klang Valley.

You can see young people at the seaside promenade having fun throwing oranges.

About 10,000 people are expected to turn up for the traditional orange-throwing session at the Esplanade, Penang, where single women throw the fruit into the sea hoping to find true love.

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Malaysia Where to Go?

According to folklore, during ancient times, they forbid young girls to go out except on Chap Goh Meh evening when they could visit temples accompanied by their maids.

For the guys, it is the chance for them to catch a glimpse of these lovely maidens. This explains why Chap Goh Meh is also regarded as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

On the night of Chap Goh Meh, unmarried girls will throw tangerines in the sea or river in the belief that they will marry good husbands.

But in this age of information technology, this tradition is slowly dying out, particularly in major towns of the country.

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Kuala Lumpur

However, those who would like to witness the lively atmosphere of the Chap Goh Meh celebrations can visit Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur.

On top of Robson Hill off Jalan Syed Putra, its architecture will interest visitors, particularly tourists.

Every year, thousands visit the temple to offer prayers to the three deities:

  • Thean Hou – Goddess of the Seas (Thean Hou)
  • Swei Mei – Goddess of the Waterfront
  • Kuan Yin – Goddess of Mercy

During the celebrations, visitors will see a colourful display of brightly lit red lanterns and lion dances.

The Chinese will throng the main temple shrine to offer prayers to the deities and obtain blessings.

Besides that, visitors to the temple will also drink ‘holy water’ from the Kuan Yin fountain for good health and good luck.

Tourists can take photographs of the dragon-inspired columns and pagoda rooftops.

Before leaving the temple, remember to get some souvenirs from the souvenir shops at the lowest level.

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Penang

In the northern state of Penang, also known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, Chap Goh Meh is a major event.

The island is renowned for fine beach resorts, colourful festivals and mouth-watering food.

The celebration of Chap Goh Meh, a fun activity can be seen every year in George Town, the capital city of Penang, at the Esplanade, a well-known waterfront promenade that stretches from the hawker stalls at one end to the clock tower at the other.

It is next to Fort Cornwallis, which was built on the site of Captain Francis Light’s historic landing in 1786.

Besides the lion dance, traditional cultural performances and the Dondang Sayang in the evening.

The Dondang Sayang troupe with the Nyonyas dressed up to the nines take part in an interesting “Lawan Pantun” a poems challenge.

There is an opportunity to see hopeful Chinese girls throwing tangerines into the sea with the wish to marry good husbands.

They are hopeful of meeting their potential spouse and arrange for dates, an ancient version of the Tinder app, perhaps?

Where Are The Hot Spots To Toss An Orange During Chap Goh Meh?

Orange Toss is a popular activity in Penang and around the Klang Valley.

You can see young people at the seaside promenade having fun throwing oranges.

About 10,000 people are expected to turn up for the traditional orange-throwing session at the Esplanade, Penang, where single women throw the fruit into the sea hoping to find true love.

There aren’t love notes or messages in the bottle, however, some single ladies write down their mobile nos for a possible contact later.

Chap Goh Meh Celebrations in Malaysia Where to Go?

Malaysian single ladies go to the lakes and near the sea to throw their oranges. Besides throwing oranges, they hold thanksgiving with a visit to the temple.

Going To The Temple For Chap Goh Prayers

Thean Hou Temple, Kuala Lumpur  – Singles and couples also observe this tradition to pray for hope and love.

Known as one of the oldest and largest temples in Southeast Asia, this holy ground will host several events including a gala show, lion dances and a lantern festival, which Chap Goh Meh is also known for.

You can head over for an eventful Chap Goh Meh and immerse yourself into the Chinese culture until 10.30 pm.

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang – At the famous temple in Penang, you will get to feast your eyes on a showcase of mesmerizing lights along with 20,000 Chinese lanterns. You can witness the beautifully lit-up temple grounds.

Opening time is until midnight tonight, and 8.30 am to 10 pm

Where To Toss Mandarin Oranges In Klang Valley?

Taman Tasik Jaya, Petaling Jaya –  A go-to spot in the city for young ladies looking to toss oranges into the lake.

Courtship is made easier now with the help of dating apps like Tinder, and social media so perhaps you might want to write down your Instagram or Facebook profile with that lucky Mandarin Orange.

Be there by 7 pm to secure your spot.

  • Taman Tasik Permaisuri, Cheras
  • Tanjung Harapan

Where To Toss Mandarin Orange In Penang?

For those up north in Penang, the most popular location for a wonderful night out is the Esplanade.

Esplanade (Padang Kota Lama) – With its proximity to the sea, single ladies (and men) can practise the tradition of tossing the oranges into the sea with ease.

Normally there are events at the Esplanade with dance performances which starts from 7.30 pm till 10.30 pm

  • Gurney Drive
  • Karpal Singh Drive
  • Straits Quay’s By-The-Sea

Where To Toss Mandarin Orange In Ipoh?

Ipoh Kwang Yin Tong – Throwing an orange and wishing for a life partner is only for Chap Goh Meh.

For this one night, hundreds of mandarin oranges bob in the water, carried by the waves, and hopes to reach the right person.

What If You Don’t Fancy To Be Seen Tossing A Mandarin Orange?

Don’t want to be seen in the crowds because of COVID-19 lockdown?

The 21st century alternative to finding your perfect partner during Chap Goh Meh – Use Social Media.

You can still take advantage of the social media and take a cute selfie with that Tangerine and post on your Instagram hoping to find their Mr Right.

And why not?

You get to save the Mandarin Oranges from going to waste and prevent polluting the sea and lakes with litter.

The ancient orange-tossing ritual was common in an era where there were no social media, internet or even mobile phones to connect with one another.

Hence, your great grandparents used to gather on the last day of the Chinese New Year where single women show charmingly that they are single and available with that Orange toss.

You can do it, either way, social media posting or for a fun evening and to keep the traditions alive, you can go ahead and do it the old-fashioned way to find true love.

According to Feng Shui masters, there seems to be a set of secret rules to increase your chance of finding the right partner.

So, listen up.

Auspicious Direction To Toss Mandarin Orange During Chap Goh Meh

Apparently, the Happiness Star faces the south-west so one is advised to face south-west direction when tossing the mandarin oranges into the lake, river or sea.

Chap Goh Meh falls on an “abundant day” where everything will volume up and chances are you will get more in return.

Auspicious Times To Toss Mandarin Orange During Chap Goh Meh

For an even greater impact, check for the best times to toss the oranges.

Auspicious hours fall between

  • 9 am and 11 am
  • 1 pm and 3 pm
  • 9 pm and 11 pm

While you may want to keep to social distancing, be cautious and avoid going to places that are completely deserted or late at night where nobody else is around.

Traditionally, the orange tossing ceremony was practised among maidens who hoped that their “Mr Right” would pick up the oranges they throw.

Today the trend is to write wishes on the fruit before tossing them in, and this is not limited only to single women looking for marriage partners.

Update: Chap Goh Meh Celebration 2021 MCO Malaysia and COVID-19 pandemic

Life has taken a different turn since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With the lockdowns and MCO (movement control order) in place, many singles resort to starting and managing new relationships online. 

In the pandemic, relationships aren’t easy for young people.

Some have formed LDR (long-distance relationships) and continue to chat.

Dating is very different when you can’t eat meals, go to movies, share stories and laugh together.

If the couple lives in the same city, they need to decide how to safely spend time with one another.

Each time they meet up – they risk infecting each other and their respective households.

So despite living in the same city, quality facetime is rare.

Even a walk in the park holding hands is impossible now.

But for courting couples, most hope for the best that they would one day meet and reunite with their loved ones.

Happy Chap Goh Meh. Smart Dory wishes everyone a healthy, happy, prosperous, and have a blessed 2021 ahead.

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