Chap Goh Meh

The fifteenth night of Chinese New Year, known in Hokkien as Chap Goh Meh, is the final night of celebrations. This day, which marks the first full moon of the new year, coincides with the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day.

Here in Penang, unmarried women gather to toss oranges into the sea and unmarried men are supposed to throw apples. While we were there, everyone was throwing mandarins. When we asked why men were throwing mandarins, we were told that apples were too expensive or impossible to find in the markets during the New Year period. I guess as food prices continue to spiral out of control across the globe, traditions will have to give way a little.

So why do men and women do this? It is thought that one’s future spouse might find the piece of fruit floating in the ocean thus connecting the two souls; however, here in Georgetown, that doesn’t seem very likely as there were two men in a boat just offshore scooping the fruit up in huge nets. Like I said, global food prices are taking their toll!

To help young Malaysian Chinese overcome the pain of watching their mandarins being hauled away into the night, the local government provided some impressive dance performances as well as fireworks displays and, of course, there was street food aplenty.

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