GEORGE TOWN: Single women used to go out during Chap Goh Meh to throw mandarin oranges into the sea in hopes of finding their true love.
The trend today is to write wishes on the fruit before tossing them in, and is not limited to single women looking for partners.
Model Carol Cheah, who was among thousands at the Esplanade for the Penang Celebrates Chap Goh Meh with a bang! event, was among those penning her wishes on several mandarins.
Cheah, 29, said this was her first time taking part in the ceremony.
“To me, throwing mandarins on Chap Goh Meh is a fun gesture to mark the Chinese Valentine’s Day celebration.
“I believe women are strong enough to be independent and lead their own lives,” she said, adding that she wished for her business to grow and expand further.
Couple Bryan Chee, 23, and Racheal Hilary, 26, who both run a restaurant business in Sabah, were in awe of the mandarin-throwing ceremony.
“I only found out about this culture through social media. I did not know that it is being celebrated here in Penang,” said Chee.
“It is our first time celebrating Chap Goh Meh here, and we were told by the locals to buy mandarins and make a wish before throwing them into the sea.
“I hope that my family will be healthy and safe always,” said Hilary.
The Willekers from the Netherlands were also spotted at the celebration.
It was the first time for Frank, 59, and his wife Lilian, 54, to be in Penang, whereas their daughter Lois, 22, was on her second visit.
“We were walking around the town and heard about this celebration,” said Lois.
“In our country, we usually get to know people through parties, at universities or even using the Tinder app.
“Getting to know people through the tossing of mandarins into the sea is indeed a first for us.”
Some 25 hawker food stalls and cultural exhibition booths were also set up to add to the carnival atmosphere.
The annual Chap Goh Meh celebration traditionally started in the evening with babas, nyonyas and a dondang sayang troupe ferried around town on a bus and two floats from the State Chinese Penang Association in Perak Road for a performance and the traditional mandarin orange-throwing ceremony at the Esplanade.