The end of the Chinese New Year festivities is coming, much to the relief of our stomachs. At the end of the 15-day period comes Chap Goh Mei, where we begin the celebration of round things: lanterns, glutinous rice balls, a full moon and mandarin oranges.
There are many beliefs on the origin of the lanterns used during the celebration (Chap Goh Mei is also known as the Lantern Festival, though it’s not to be confused with the Mid-Autumn Festival which is also known as the Lantern Festival). Being the 15th day of the lunar month, the moon blooms in its full splendour, and accompanying red lanterns fill the night with an air of mystic royalty. Sometimes, riddles are written on lanterns, though it isn’t widely practiced in this region.
The dumplings, or tang yuan, are symbolic of of living a good life. There is of course a whole legend that goes with it, but we know you aren’t here for fancy stories like that. If you want to know why you were given crates upon crates of mandarin oranges, you’d love the idea of Chap Goh Mei.
You’d even think that Chap Goh Mei was invented for the sole purpose of doing away with all those oranges.
Many centuries ago, all them single ladies were not allowed to go outdoors and mingle with others until Chap Goh Mei. The tradition, which actually originated from Penang, is that single ladies will write their contact details (Facebook, if you’re hip) on the all of a sudden good-for-something oranges and toss them into the water. It is said that if you orange is picked up, you will have a blessed love life. The Esplanade at Penang is where it’s at if you’re all about mandarin orange tossing. But if you’re stuck in KL, you can always attend the celebration at Central Market on the 4th of February.
So, anyone wants me mandarin oranges?