The Chinese New Year holiday comes to its climax with the Yuan Xiao (元宵节—yuán xiāo jié), or Lantern Festival.
Began over 2000 years ago, the festival has developed many meanings. It celebrates family reunions and society. It features ancient spiritual traditions. Some also call this the “true” Chinese Valentine’s Day.
The many activities include moon gazing, lighting lanterns, riddles, lion dances and eating rice balls. According to the lunar calendar, the festival takes place on 19th February 2019, Tuesday. This festival should not be confused with Mid-Autumn Festival popularly coined as Lantern Festival also.
Yuan Xiao Jie falls on the 15th day of Zhengyue (first month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar) is also known as Chap Goh Mei (literally 15th evening) in Singapore.
The term Chap Goh Mei is derived from the Hokkien dialect when translated simply means the 15th night of Chinese New Year. Chap Goh Mei is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day, another significant purpose for this day besides being tagged as the last day of celebrations. In China, it is also the Chinese Valentine’s Day. This is also a night where family members come together and have a meal while offerings and prayers are also held in conjunction with the celebrations.
Just like the first day of Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Mei is celebrated on a grand scale as the houses are decorated with bright lights and red lanterns. You can see that many of the houses provide offerings for the deities as the candles and joss sticks flicker in the wind. If you go to temples you can see many of the devotees perform prayers and asking the God of Prosperity to bless them with success and wealth for the coming year.
This last day is also marked as the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day. For those who are single, the common tradition is to write their names and contacts on the mandarin oranges, which are then thrown into a river, lake or pond in hope of finding ones future partner. This is definitely one of the main highlights of Chap Goh Mei and something that is popular amongst the youths even until today.
In Malaysia, every year on Chap Goh Mei, you would see throngs of single people flock to nearby rivers armed with mandarin oranges and personal information scribbled on the skin of the oranges, and there are those who have found true love from the mandarin oranges.
So for the singles, may you find your better half this CHAP GOH MEI!