Last night, I met up with several Malaysian friends who travelled to Singapore for a short holiday. As the following day is ‘Chap Goh Meh’ (Yuanxiao Jie or Lantern Festival, also known as the Chinese version of Valentines’ Day), I invited them for dinner with my family. We went to a restaurant by the Singapore River.
This traditional Chinese festival (on the 15th of the first month of the Chinese New Year) marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. The festival is not well celebrated in Singapore.
During dinner, I learnt that 'Chap Goh Meh’ is celebrated with much joy and festivites by my Malaysian friends in their hometown. Their families would gather over a grand meal. After dinner, the elders would offer prayers to the God of Prosperity to bless their family with good fortune for the coming year.
The single ladies in the house would inscribe their names and telephone numbers on mandarin oranges and throw them into a nearby river. Several unmarried men waiting in boats would then row over to scoop up the oranges. Finding a partner sounds fun and interesting in their hometown. Chinese-style blind dating. :P
One of the single ladies wanted to try her luck in our Singapore River by throwing in a mandarin orange, but I stopped her as she might be penalised for 'polluting the river'. :P
For dessert, we each ate a bowl of tang yuan (glutinous rice ball 汤圆). Made with sticky glutinous rice flour and filled with a sweet stuffing, its round shape symbolizes family unity, completeness and happiness.