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Chap Goh Mei / Lantern Festival: What Do the Chinese Celebrate on the 15th Day of Lunar New Year

16 Feb 2022

What Happens on the 15th?

Image Credit: siva_wwc

The 15th day of the Lunar New Year is when the first 🌕full moon of the year (based on the lunisolar Chinese calendar) appears. It marks the final day of the Lunar New Year celebrations. This day is also the last day where all the Chinese New Year customs like the giving of 🧧red packets, yee sang tossing, and lion dances are observed.

What Happens on the 15th?

Image Credit: siva_wwc

The 15th day of the Lunar New Year is when the first 🌕full moon of the year (based on the lunisolar Chinese calendar) appears. It marks the final day of the Lunar New Year celebrations. This day is also the last day where all the Chinese New Year customs like the giving of 🧧red packets, yee sang tossing, and lion dances are observed.

Is it Chap Goh Mei or the Lantern Festival?

Image Credit: thestar.com.my

This day comes under many names such as the 🏮Lantern Festival (not to be confused with Mid-Autumn festival), Chap Goh Mei, Shangyuan Festival and Yuanxiao Jie. Chap Goh Mei is a Hokkien term that means “the 15th night” and it is unique only to regions around Malaysia and Singapore. In these countries, the significance is more towards finding 💘love, where 👩ladies will throw 🍊mandarin oranges with contact details into a river. These oranges will then be picked up by the single 👦lads (kinda like a traditional version of tinder😏).

Image Credit: iStockPhoto

On the other hand, in places like China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the 15th day of the Lunar New Year is more commonly known as Yuanxiao Jie, the Yuanxiao Festival or simply the Lantern Festival. On this day, people from the latter regions (especially China) display 🏮lanterns of various colours and play guessing lantern riddles.

Is it Chap Goh Mei or the Lantern Festival?

Image Credit: thestar.com.my

This day comes under many names such as the 🏮Lantern Festival (not to be confused with Mid-Autumn festival), Chap Goh Mei, Shangyuan Festival and Yuanxiao Jie. Chap Goh Mei is a Hokkien term that means “the 15th night” and it is unique only to regions around Malaysia and Singapore. In these countries, the significance is more towards finding 💘love, where 👩ladies will throw 🍊mandarin oranges with contact details into a river. These oranges will then be picked up by the single 👦lads (kinda like a traditional version of tinder😏).

Image Credit: iStockPhoto

On the other hand, in places like China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the 15th day of the Lunar New Year is more commonly known as Yuanxiao Jie, the Yuanxiao Festival or simply the Lantern Festival. On this day, people from the latter regions (especially China) display 🏮lanterns of various colours and play guessing lantern riddles.

Legends

Image Credit: Purple-Gecko

There are many legends about the origin of this festival, and one of them traces back to the reign of Emperor Ming of the Han dynasty. It was a period when Buddhism was growing in the region. The emperor, a Buddhism devotee, noticed that Buddhist monks would light 🏮lanterns in temples on the 15th day of the first lunar month. He then ordered everybody to light lanterns on the evening of the 15th day from then onwards.

Image Credit: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

There is another legend that also tells the origin of the Lantern Festival. It started with a few villagers who killed the Jade Emperor’s favourite crane. This event angered the Heavenly Emperor, and he planned to destroy the entire village with 🔥fire on the 15th day of Lunar New Year. (eh hello, it’s the Jade Emperor’s favourite crane-leh, what you expect) The Jade Emperor’s kepochi kind daughter then informed the murderers villagers about the enraged emperor’s plan. Scared by the news, a smart ass villager then suggested that every household should hang 🏮red lanterns and set 🧨firecrackers on the street. This will give the illusion of the whole village engulfed in 🔥fire. The emperor ended up believing that the village was already on fire and cancelled his plan, the whole village was saved. This then became a tradition every year to celebrate their success in tricking the emperor victory.

Image Credit: AFP via Getty Images

The most famous legend of the origin of the 🏮Lantern Festival also involved another emperor, but he is the side character-lah. The main character is the emperor’s maid called Yuan Xiao. She wanted to jump into a well but got caught by the emperor’s advisor Dongfang Shuo. He then found out that she was very sad because now that she is working in the palace, she can't show her filial piety to her parents outside the city. Dongfang Shuo then came out with a complicated but 💡brilliant plan to help. Long story short, he managed to convince the emperor and the citizens that the god of fire wanted to set the whole city 🔥ablaze on the 15th day of Lunar New Year.

Image Credit: magazine.foodpanda.my

The emperor then asked for his advice, and he suggested that they make “Tang Yuan” as it’s the fire god’s favourite food and offer it to him. He then further mentioned that they should ask the palace maid called Yuan Xiao to make it as she is very good at making it. At the same time, he also suggested that everyone carry 🏮red lanterns and set 🧨firecrackers to trick the fire god into believing that the city is on fire. To make the city even more crowded with red lanterns, the emperor invited people from outside the city to come in, carrying red lanterns. Yuan Xiao’s parents then took this opportunity to enter the city and reunite with her. After this event, the emperor ordered its citizens to make “Tang Yuan” and carry red lanterns every 15th day of Lunar New Year.

Legends

Image Credit: Purple-Gecko

There are many legends about the origin of this festival, and one of them traces back to the reign of Emperor Ming of the Han dynasty. It was a period when Buddhism was growing in the region. The emperor, a Buddhism devotee, noticed that Buddhist monks would light 🏮lanterns in temples on the 15th day of the first lunar month. He then ordered everybody to light lanterns on the evening of the 15th day from then onwards.

Image Credit: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

There is another legend that also tells the origin of the Lantern Festival. It started with a few villagers who killed the Jade Emperor’s favourite crane. This event angered the Heavenly Emperor, and he planned to destroy the entire village with 🔥fire on the 15th day of Lunar New Year. (eh hello, it’s the Jade Emperor’s favourite crane-leh, what you expect) The Jade Emperor’s kepochi kind daughter then informed the murderers villagers about the enraged emperor’s plan. Scared by the news, a smart ass villager then suggested that every household should hang 🏮red lanterns and set 🧨firecrackers on the street. This will give the illusion of the whole village engulfed in 🔥fire. The emperor ended up believing that the village was already on fire and cancelled his plan, the whole village was saved. This then became a tradition every year to celebrate their success in tricking the emperor victory.

Image Credit: AFP via Getty Images

The most famous legend of the origin of the 🏮Lantern Festival also involved another emperor, but he is the side character-lah. The main character is the emperor’s maid called Yuan Xiao. She wanted to jump into a well but got caught by the emperor’s advisor Dongfang Shuo. He then found out that she was very sad because now that she is working in the palace, she can't show her filial piety to her parents outside the city. Dongfang Shuo then came out with a complicated but 💡brilliant plan to help. Long story short, he managed to convince the emperor and the citizens that the god of fire wanted to set the whole city 🔥ablaze on the 15th day of Lunar New Year.

Image Credit: magazine.foodpanda.my

The emperor then asked for his advice, and he suggested that they make “Tang Yuan” as it’s the fire god’s favourite food and offer it to him. He then further mentioned that they should ask the palace maid called Yuan Xiao to make it as she is very good at making it. At the same time, he also suggested that everyone carry 🏮red lanterns and set 🧨firecrackers to trick the fire god into believing that the city is on fire. To make the city even more crowded with red lanterns, the emperor invited people from outside the city to come in, carrying red lanterns. Yuan Xiao’s parents then took this opportunity to enter the city and reunite with her. After this event, the emperor ordered its citizens to make “Tang Yuan” and carry red lanterns every 15th day of Lunar New Year.

Do You Know the Difference Between Yuanxiao and Tangyuan?

Image Credit: home.meishichina.com
Image Credit: rotinrice.com

On the 15th day of Lunar New Year, Chinese people eat “Yuan Xiao” or “Tang Yuan”. Both look similar but are actually different in terms of fillings and methods of making.“Yuan Xiao” is more commonly eaten in northern China whereas “Tang Yuan'' is more common in southern China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. The Chinese also believe that the round glutinous balls symbolise family togetherness and reunions.

Do You Know the Difference Between Yuanxiao and Tangyuan?

Image Credit: home.meishichina.com
Image Credit: rotinrice.com

On the 15th day of Lunar New Year, Chinese people eat “Yuan Xiao” or “Tang Yuan”. Both look similar but are actually different in terms of fillings and methods of making.“Yuan Xiao” is more commonly eaten in northern China whereas “Tang Yuan'' is more common in southern China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. The Chinese also believe that the round glutinous balls symbolise family togetherness and reunions.

Chap Goh Mei or the Lantern Festival is what the Chinese people celebrate on the 15th day of Lunar New Year. It is a very festive day, so be ready for the loud 🎆fireworks and 🧨firecrackers on the night of the 14th day of Lunar New Year!

Chap Goh Mei or the Lantern Festival is what the Chinese people celebrate on the 15th day of Lunar New Year. It is a very festive day, so be ready for the loud 🎆fireworks and 🧨firecrackers on the night of the 14th day of Lunar New Year!

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