Chap Goh Meh

It’ that time of the year again to toss Mandarin oranges into the sea, or river as the case may be. Today is Chap Goh Meh, the 15th and last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Chap Goh Meh or Yuen Xiao in Mandarin is also the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day.

The practice of tossing Mandarin oranges is uniquely Malaysian. To be precise, it originated in Penang where unmarried women would gather at the seaside on the night of Chap Goh Mei. There, they would toss oranges into the sea, hoping the fruits would be picked up by eligible young men who would then become their husbands.

In China and Taiwan, the 15th day of the new lunar year is also known as the lantern festival, and streets and temples there would be decorated with giant paper lanterns.

New twist: Men tossing 'banana'

When it comes to romance, the Chinese celebrate “Valentine’s Day” three times a year.

The first two (Valentine and Chap Goh Meh) are quite common but there is actually one we missed out. They can also look forward to Qi Xi, the day when Qi Jie, the weaver girl from Heaven, is allowed to meet her lover Niulang on the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar.

According to legend, magpies would form a bridge across the Milky Way to make it possible for Qi Jie to meet her lover. The lovers were separated by the God of Heaven when He found out that the girl, who is a fairy from Heaven, had married a man on Earth. Thus, the day they meet is also regarded as a Chinese Valentine’s Day to commemorate the eternal love between the two.