Chap Goh Mei is a Chinese festival that falls in the 15 day after the Chinese New Year, and it is the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day. Chap Goh Mei is an important celebration in Penang and it dates back to the 20th century. The event is considered to be a great occasion for unmarried ladies to find suitable partners. As part of the festival, bachelors stand in sampans off Esplanade. Then, the girls throw oranges and mandarins into the sea, in the direction of the boy they like. If the boy is interested in the girl who threw the fruit, he will collect the orange and bring it back to her. Searching for the perfect bride is one of the most soothing and exciting things to do at the Chap Goh Mei festivity for locals, while travelers can sit back and admire the custom.
During the last ten years, there has been a true rebirth of the Chap Goh Mei tradition. Chinese struggled to preserve this practice alive and pass it to the next generation. Currently in Malaysia, the Chap Goh Mei festival is held every year and it is attended by thousands of single people looking for a partner. Thos who don’t know what to do in Malaysia should see this customary event as an opportunity to glance at the beautiful women searching for their soul mate.
Chap Goh Mei – The Legend
The festival has a fascinating legend behind. It tells the story of a solitary man who, during a trip, laid sight on a wonderful woman. He immediately fell head over heels in love with her. In spite of the exhilaration and excitement pounding in his heart, the man managed to remember her car’s number. On the next day, he carried on some research, trying to find out who owns the car. He finally managed to get an address and immediately demanded his mother to send a matchmaker and ask the beautiful girl to marry him.
Because he was in such a hurry he didn’t perform a thorough investigation. This is why he didn’t know that the beautiful girl who stole his heart was not the daughter of the house, but a simple niece. On his wedding day, the groom discovered that instead of admiring the radiant, stunning woman he loved, he was going to marry her fat and disgraceful cousin. However, the story has a happy ending, because his wife was a really wealthy woman. With so many things to do in Malaysia, have you ever thought of looking for a soul mate?
The Chap Goh Mei festival is inspired from this poor man’s story. Initially, the celebration was named Yuan Xiao. In the traditional Penang dialect, Chap Goh Meh means the 15th night after the Chinese New Year. During this event the participants also pray and party to mark the end of another year.
For this unique occasion the houses are decorated with lights, bright colors and music can be heard everywhere. People hang lanterns over their balconies and gather in small groups to offer prayers to their ancestors. In spite of a ban, various firecrackers are lit to celebrate the New Year. The next day everything goes back to normal, people return to work and businesses operate as usual.
The Chap Goh Mei festival can be attended by anyone, so if travelers don’t know where to go in Malaysia to have good time, they should surely take this engaging festivity into account. They will have a whale of a time getting involved in all the activities organized for this celebration, and participating in the orange throwing ceremony. In the morning, nyonya household offer pengat, a sweet broth of bananas and tubers to all their friends and relatives.
In the evening the atmosphere is very tranquil and relaxed. You can hear music in the air and all sorts of lovely scents will revive your senses. Dondang Sayang means “lullaby of love” and is a fabulous interplay of sung poetry. It is centered on the theme of love between a man and a woman.
In the past, the festival was one of the very few occasions where unmarried young ladies transformed into real beauties, were permitted to get out of their homes. Gentlemen were only allowed to admire the ladies, who were always accompanied by their aunts and servants. Out of so many beautiful places to visit in Malaysia, it’s time to have a good time attending the Chap Goh Mei celebration spread throughout the Malaysian territory.
Every official festival and event in Malaysia should be praised by both locals and travelers. Be responsible during your journey and have respect for the tradition. Act with esteem and reverences, recycle the products you consume, and have a good time without disturbing the peace and harmony of the celebration.