Monday, February 21, 2005

Chinese Valentine's Day

Believe it or not, we're still celebrating Chinese New Year.

It lasts 15 days and the next festivities in line would be the last day of the Chinese New Year, which would be on February 23rd.

Several traditions are observed on this day, and one of them apparently originated from the island of Penang in Malaysia, called Chap Goh Mei ( translated as "The Night of the 15th")

Similar to Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Mei is marked with the blast of fireworks, a family feast and lanterns. The Hokkien community of Penang commemorates this day with a procession (Chingay parade)with stilt walkers, dragon and lion dances, and acrobats, to the beat of gongs, drums and cymbals.

However, the highlight of Chap Goh Meh, which is often regarded as the Chinese Valentine's day, has got to be the throwing of oranges into the river, sea or lake by young girls. According to tradition, the girls will write their name on the oranges and make a wish for a compatible and good husband before they throw it. Somewhat like tossing a coin into a wishing well.

Apparently, in the past, Chap Goh Meh was one of the few occasions where eligible young ladies, were allowed out from the confines of their homes and thus able to "interact" with the opposite sex. Bachelors could only admire from afar as the ladies were always accompanied by an entourage of the fiercest looking aunts and amahs (servants)!

While many no longer believe in the legend, it is still a fun thing to do. The tradition still prevails to this day. I myself probably have also been "guilty" of orange-throwing once or twice in the past...

The OTHER "last day of the Chinese New Year" celebration will be explained tomorrow..and it involves lanterns and yes, FOOD!!!!.


dreaming-neko said...

am i allowed to throw an orange into the sea with my name on it for luck? :)

Ria said...

Wow! Sounds like fun!! Ive always wanted to know what it would be like to celebrate Chinese New Year :S I didnt know it lasts for so long! :O

Desmond Goh said...

Well Letti, you are a true Chinese cultural ambassador. You described "chap Go Mei" real well. Where did you throw your oranges in the past? I mean Penang or Taman Jaya in Pj?

makuahine said...

Wow thanks again for the culture lesson! It's all so neat!
Yay food, I can't wait!! :)

Mysti said...

This looks absolutely awesome to be a part of. Cool for you that you are still celebrating. I havea question, though. Is there a special symbolization about the orange?

<"3 )~ said...

YAY Letti! I love reading your blog! Just last night I was talkign to my boyfriend on the phone and he went on a speil about British countries and driving on the left side of the road... AH HA! I caught him red-handed reading your blog ;) We are both avid readers!! Please keep the AWESOME lessons coming!

<"3 )~

Ngakaari said...

I wish I had a neat cultural heritage to celebrate like that.