Once every 19 years, Valentine’s Day and Chinese Valentine’s Day fall on the same day.
TODAY is Double Valentine’s Day, which occurs once every 19 years. Most people know this day as Valentine’s Day. This year, this date is also the 15th day of the first lunar month (or Chap Goh Meh in Hokkien), also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day.
“This coincidence is very meaningful and auspicious, especially in this Wood Horse Year which has double spring days (Feb 4, 2014, and Feb 4, 2015). It is very auspicious to marry or give birth this year,” says feng shui consultant Kenny Hoo.
Although it is a good day for marriages or engagements, couples may not want to hold a wedding so soon after the festive break as friends and relatives may find it troublesome to travel outstation again to attend a wedding. Hoo foresees that many couples would register their marriage on this special day.
Feng shui-wise, this Feb 14 clashes with the Dog person. “Those born under the Dog zodiac must avoid major events such as marriages, starting a new business or moving into a new house on this day,” says Hoo, who adds that babies born on this Feb 14 will grow up to be friendly and have an analytical mind. They are also likely to be smart, intuitive, creative, and helpful by nature.
Datuk David Hew, co-founder of Visiber, is quick to point out that it takes more than a good day for a happy marriage as one needs to combine the birth dates of both bride and bridegroom to determine if that date is suitable for matrimony.
“Babies born today will grow up with a strong character and enjoy a good career. They are likely to be jetsetters. With their excellent social skills, they will attract a lot of attention. However, they tend to be hard-headed and cling strongly to their principles. Thus they may have difficulty finding a life partner; this is especially so for the girls,” says Hew.
Traditionally, the 15th day of the first lunar month is called the Lantern Festival or Yuan Xiao Festival. Hoo explains that according to Chinese tradition, at the beginning of a new year when there is a bright full moon, there should be thousands of colourful lanterns dotting the sky for people to enjoy, as families get together to solve the riddles on the lanterns and eat yuan xiao or tang yuan (glutinous rice balls). The custom of eating yuan xiao is said to have originated from the Eastern Jin Dynasty in the 4th century but it became popular during the Tang and Song periods. The dumplings had sweet or savoury fillings. The sweet fillings were made of walnuts, sesame seeds, osmanthus flowers, rose petals, sweetened tangerine peel and bean paste or jujube paste. The salty version had minced meat, vegetables or a mix of both.
Hew explains that the round shape of the glutinous rice balls and the bowls symbolise “completeness and togetherness” (pronounced as tuan yuan in Mandarin). During the olden days, the Yuan Xiao Festival brought together young men and women as they made a wish for a happy future. Hence the festival was regarded as a Chinese Valentine’s Day as it was also an occasion for matchmaking.
In Malaysia, on Chap Goh Meh night, singles gather at esplanades or the lakeside to keep alive the tradition of tossing mandarin oranges into the sea or lakes, in hopes of finding a life partner. Names and contact numbers are written on the oranges (and bananas). It is a fun way for young people to get in touch with a member of the opposite gender after fishing out their prized fruits.
Hew explains: “The tradition of throwing mandarin oranges can be traced back to the rituals performed by the Hokkiens in southern China during the 19th century. It later evolved into a big tradition in Penang and the Klang Valley. In the old days, young girls only left their houses to meet or visit friends during festive seasons such as the Lunar New Year. They also performed prayers and set adrift lanterns – bearing good wishes – on tiny boats. Young men would take this opportunity to get to know the girls.”
Seniors can also join in the activities by throwing oranges or bananas with good wishes written on them.
“This is a great way to attract good qi (natural energy) for better health, career and relationship,” Hoo adds.
Some Chinese families celebrate Chap Goh Meh with a feast at home or in restaurants. They also eat glutinous rice dumplings to mark the last day of Chinese New Year.