Simply Hamper | Chap Goh Mei Traditions

What is Chap Goh Mei?

Chap Goh Mei, which is the Hokkien term for the fifteenth night of the lunar new year, is also known as Yuan Xiao Jie, or Lantern Festival.

This marks the final day of traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, and new year decorations are usually taken down on this day. They are then replaced with red lanterns to celebrate the first full moon of the year.

Origins of Chap Goh Mei

The most popular folklore revolves around the Jade Emperor, the first god in the Chinese religion. After his favorite pet crane landed on Earth and was killed by villagers, the Jade Emperor planned a storm of fire upon the village on the 15th day of the lunar year.

To escape his wrath, a wise man suggested the villagers hang red lanterns and set off firecrackers to make it look like their homes were already ablaze.

Fast forward to today, this is why a lot of people also celebrate the last night of the Lunar New Year with lanterns and firecrackers.

Therefore, we’ve listed four traditions that are usually practiced during the celebration of the Chap Goh Mei. Let’s check them out: 

Chinese Valentine’s day

In ancient days, unmarried young ladies would doll up and be accompanied by a chaperone to throw mandarin oranges into the sea. Young men on the other side will take note and arrange for a marriage proposal.

It’s also referred to as the Chinese valentine’s day. Although, the tradition doesn’t necessarily limit to those who are single. People also throw in fruits with good wishes written on them

Eating Tangyuan

Tangyuan or known as rice glutinous balls, is a Chinese dessert that consists of balls of dough that are made of rice flour and water. They’re either boiled or deep-fried and then served in a hot broth or syrup.

It also contains various paste fillings that include lotus seed, red bean, sesame, sugarcane rock candy, custard, chopped peanuts with sugar, or even fruit preserves.

Traditionally, the round shape of tangyuan is believed to symbolize togetherness, harmony, happiness, and fortune in the new year.

Family Reunion Dinner

On the day of the Chap Goh Mei, families living under the same roof will traditionally have dinner together. Unlike on the eve of the Lunar New Year, where reunion dinners are held with the extended family .

This is believed to help strengthen family ties in the new year and usher in harmony in the household, especially between family members.

Lantern Riddles

Aside from being known as Chap Goh Mei, the people celebrating the day also consider it as Yuan Xiao Jie (The Lantern Festival). One of the major tradition is to solve riddles on the lanterns. 

Lanterns of various shapes as well as sizes can be seen everywhere and it is believed that the brighter the lantern is, the luckier you will be.

On this night too, you can observe cultural performances, lion dances and a lot of fireworks, lighting up the night sky.

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