Chap Goh Meh celebrations kicking into gear in Penang

GEORGE TOWN: Make your way to Penang for a grand closing of the Chinese New Year celebrations as thousands revel in an array of activities at the Esplanade, including a giant dragon sculpture in the form of an arch that is lit up at night.

Called "Chap Goh Meh" (which is Penang Hokkien for what might be best translated as "the ending on the 15th"), the extra bright full moon will dominate the usually-cloudless night sky for this state-level celebration from 5pm to 11pm on Saturday (Feb 24) to mark the end of the two-week Chinese New Year celebrations.

Among the featured programmes are arts and crafts activities, multicultural drums performance, Chinese orchestra, acrobatic lion dance on stilts, live bands and fire juggling shows.

Not to be missed as a Chap Goh Meh tradition will be the mandarin orange-tossing ceremony for single ladies hoping to find love at the Esplanade, which will be ongoing throughout the evening.

Penang tourism and creative economy committee chairman Wong Hon Wai said the display of dragon sculpture symbolises the zodiac of the year.

"This year’s Chap Goh Meh celebration not only embraces traditional customs but also integrates modern elements, showcasing the rich and diverse cultural charm of Penang," he said.

Wong added that the mandarin oranges tossing at 5.30pm will be for the single, young ladies that is believed to bring them a potential significant other-half; they get to inscribe their names and contact details for the on the mandarins they throw into the sea and see if pure luck might lead them to meet Mr Right.

Later at 8pm, there will be a world-class cultural showcase – the "Festival of Spring" Chinese New Year Gala 2024 performed by a troupe of professional performers from China.

To heighten the celebration with Penang's famed street food fare, some 40 food trucks and stalls will be present at the event.

Penang Peranakan Baba Nyonya Association president Lillian Tong said a 'Dondang Sayang' cultural performance entourage will make their way to the celebration following a float procession.

"Over 60 members of five dance groups will perform. The entire performance is expected to last about 30 minutes," she said.

The association has been actively promoting Peranakan culture with the annual Dondang Sayang procession on every Chap Goh Meh.

The Peranakan are descended from early Chinese settlers in South-East Asia, particularly in British colonial ports in the Malay Peninsula, Indonesian Archipelago and Singapore.

Their culture, prominent in Melaka, Singapore, Penang, Phuket and Tangerang, is characterised by a blend of traditional Chinese customs with local culture, developed over centuries through cultural exchanges and intermarriage.

Chap Goh Meh is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month according to the Chinese calendar, an important festival signifying the end of the celebration.

This auspicious day is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

Traditionally, young single women write their names and phone numbers on mandarin oranges before throwing them into ponds or lakes, in hopes of finding a boyfriend or husband.

Then bachelors wait eagerly on the opposite bank to collect the floating oranges.

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Penang , Chap Goh meh , CNY , Tourism ,


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