Friday, 14 February 2014

Yuan Xiao Jie 元宵节 (Chap Goh Meh)

2014 Chinese Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is a traditional Chinese festival since Han  Dynasty more than 2000 years ago. In the early Tan  Dynasty (618-907AD), it was called theShan-Yuan  Festival, because of Taoism. in the late Tan Dynasty, it was called the Yuan-Xiao  Festival. It was called Lantern Night in the Sun  Dynasty (960-1297 A.D.). The Lantern Festival was used in Ching  Dynasty (1644-1911 AD).

According to Taoism, Shan-Yuan  (first period of the year) Festival is the birthday of the Heaven Officer who blesses human luck. On the 15th lunar day of 7th lunar month is Chung-Yuan  (middle period of the year) Festival, which is the birthday of the Hell Officer who has right to pardon ghosts. On this day, all the ghosts can leave hell to human world for food. So the 7th lunar month is called Ghost Month. Many Chinese won't get married in this month. The 15th lunar day of 10th lunar month is Xia-Yaun  (last period of the year) Festival. This day is the birthday of the Water Officer who can rescue people in trouble.

On the 15th lunar day of the year, some Chinese families worship the Heaven Officer of Taoism and pray for luck at home or temple during the daytime. Traditionally, Chinese should decorate the light lanterns around the house and children carry the candle paper lantern on the street at night. It might the safety concern, not too many follow this custom today. In stead, many people will attend different activities of the Lantern Festival.

The lantern displays can be found in the town center square and temples. Usually. there is the lantern competition at the temple. Traditional lanterns are made by paper. They can make the lantern tuning around by the heat circulation from the candle inside. Today the light of the lantern is from the electricity. People like to design lantern using zodiac animals, historical figures, saint and gods of Taoism or Buddhism. Certainly, the current year's animal symbol of the Chinese calendar is most popular subject. Using the computer tool today, they can design the lantern with different movements, the different colors of light and even using the laser light with special visual and sound effects.

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Lantern Festival

File:Lanterns in Nanjing Fuzimiao.jpg

The Lantern Festival in China is a festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar year in the lunar calendar marking the last day of the lunar New Year celebration. During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns (simplified Chinese: 猜灯谜; traditional Chinese: 猜燈謎; Mandarin Pinyin: cāidēngmí; Jyutping: caai1dang1mai4).

It officially ends the Chinese New Year celebrations. It is not to be confused with the Mid-Autumn Festival; which is sometimes also known as the "Lantern Festival" in locations such as Singapore and Malaysia.

In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate onesIn modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs. For example, lanterns are now often made in the shape of animals. The lanterns can symbolize the people letting go of their past selves and getting new ones, which they will let go of the next year. The lanterns are almost always 

History of Lantern Festival

silk lanterns in the lantern fesitval
dragon boat lantern display

Lantern Festival is the first month 15th of Lunar calendar. Furthermore, known as the Shang Yuan Festival, Yuan Night, the Lantern Festival. Around a lot to say about the origin of the Chinese Lantern Festival, there are three theories as to spread wider.

Lantern Festival Origin
  1. The Lantern Festival is the Han Emperor to commemorate the “Ping Lu,” such as, because it is the first month 15th in the year, to quell the chaos of Lu;
  2. The people celebrated the Lantern Festival is the first full moon night in the year also called the “Shang Yuan Festival”;
  3. The Lantern Festival originated from the “Torch Festival”, the Han people in the countryside who hold torches to drive worm beast, they hope that can reduce pests and have a good harvest.
At the present time, Chinese Lantern Festival have a great developmental, the Giant Lantern Display became the most important activities for it’s full of commercial value and cultural connotations.

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Fifteenth day, Lantern Festival

(Traditional Chinese: 元宵節 , Pinyin: yuán xiāo jié, literally: first night festival)

The 15th day marks the first full moon after the Spring Festival and of the New Year, also known as yuán xiāo jié meaning "first night of the full moon". The day is as well known as Lantern Festival day.

Another reunion dinner is held with lanterns and oranges being a large part of the celebrations.
It is customary to eat special sweet dumplings called yuanxiao resembling the shape of the full moon. These round balls are made of glutinous rice flour stuffed with sugar fillings, symbolizing reunion. Tāngyuán literally means "round balls in soup", tāngtuán translates to "round dumplings in soup".

The festival is associated with guiding lost and ill bred evil spirits home, while celebrating and cultivating positive relationship between people, families, nature and the higher beings as they are believed to be responsible for bringing and returning the light each year.

Yuanxiao are also called tāngyuán (Traditional Chinese: 湯圓, Simplified Chinese: 汤圆 ) or tāngtuán (Traditional Chinese: 湯團, Simplified Chinese: 汤团).

During this festival lanterns are displayed, at times as lantern fairs, and children are carrying lanterns to temples.

Another legend associates the Lantern Festival with Taoism. Tian Guan is the Taoist 'Ruler of Heaven' and the god responsible for good fortune, bestowing wealth and good luck. His birthday falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month. It is said that Tian Guan likes all types of entertainment, so followers prepare various kinds of activities during which they pray for good fortune.

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Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, usually in February or March in the Gregorian calendar. As early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25), it had become a festival with great significance.

This day's important activity is watching lanterns. Throughout the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), Buddhism flourished in China. One emperor heard that Buddhist monks would watch sarira, or remains from the cremation of Buddha's body, and light lanterns to worship Buddha on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, so he ordered to light lanterns in the imperial palace and temples to show respect to Buddha on this day. Later, the Buddhist rite developed into a grand festival among common people and its influence expanded from the Central Plains to the whole of China.

Till today the Lantern Festival is still held each year around the country. Lanterns of various shapes and sizes are hung in the streets, attracting countless visitors. Children will hold self-made or bought lanterns to stroll with on the streets, extremely excited.

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The Chinese Lantern Festival

The 15th day of the 1st lunar month is the Chinese Lantern Festival because the first lunar month is called yuan-month and in the ancient times people called night Xiao. The 15th day is the first night to see a full moon. So the day is also called Yuan Xiao Festival in China. 

According to the Chinese tradition, at the very beginning of a new year, when there is a bright full moon hanging in the sky, there should be thousands of colorful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate. At this time, people will try to solve the puzzles on the lanterns and eat yuanxiao (glutinous rice ball) and get all their families united in the joyful atmosphere.

Today, the displaying of lanterns is still a big event on the 15th day of the first lunar month throughout China. People enjoy the brightly lit night. Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, for example, holds a lantern fair each year in the Cultural Park. During the Lantern Festival, the park is literally an ocean of lanterns! Many new designs attract countless visitors. The most eye-catching lantern is the Dragon Pole. This is a lantern in the shape of a golden dragon, spiraling up a 27-meter -high pole, spewing fireworks from its mouth. It is quite an impressive sight!

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Rediscovering the romance of Chap Goh Mei

A romantic spot on the streets of Chinatown on Chap Goh Mei
The search for romance

The lantern parade

The fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Mei (Hokkien for 15th night) as it has been commonly referred to in Singapore, has traditionally been associated with romance. It was perhaps in the hope of rediscovering the romance of a festival that has been lost in the embrace of modernity that drew a healthy crowd of participants to a walk through the streets of Chinatown on the evening of the fifteenth day this year on what coincidentally was also the western day for the celebration of romance, St. Valentine’s Day that was organised by the Conservation Management Department of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The fifteenth night of any Chinese lunar month is of course one that, weather conditions permitting, would be illuminated by the light of the full moon – a setting that certainly is ideal for romance. In the case of Chap Goh Mei, it is a night when Yuanxiao Jie (元宵节) is celebrated, providing an evening for romance to be found not only in the light of the moon, but also in the glow of colourful lanterns; it having been a tradition to have lanterns displayed outside homes and along five-foot-ways, as it was for children to take to the streets carrying lanterns in a fashion similar to the Mid-Autumn festival.

The search for romance would take many eligible young men and women to the water’s edge - the waterfront along Esplanade was, I am told, a particularly popular spot, from which fruits would be aimed into the water. For the ladies, it would be oranges, representing good husbands, that would be thrown, and for men, good wives taking the form of apples – a practice that I actually did not know about until more recent times.

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Chap Goh Meh 元宵节

17th February was the 15th day of lunar new year and the last day of Chinese New Year (CNY) (元宵节) or "Chap Goh Meh" (Hokkien dialect) which was also known as "Lantern Festival" and Chinese Valentine's day in the Southeast Asia.

On this day, Chinese in Malaysia celebrate with match making events where groups of unmarried ladies throw tangerines into the sea or river with their contact numbers written on them while groups of bachelors wait to pick up these tangerines and the contact number to begin a romantic relationship.

You may ask why throw tangerines? This is because tangerines in Hokkien dialect has the homophone of husband, so the hope of finding a husband.

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Chap Goh Meh! "A Festivals Of Romance"

On the 15th day of Chinese Lunar year, Chinese community in Penang celebrated 
Chap Goh Meh. According to legend, this fascinating festival tells a story of a lonely 
young man who during his first outing saw one of the most beautiful women his sights ever laid on. He was immediately enraptures by her stunning looks.

Despite the excitement and exhilaration pounding in his heart, the young man quickly jotted down the number of her car. On the very next day, he made a search and enquiries on which this car belongs to. When he got to know the address, he quickly asks his mother to send a matchmaker to his dream girl's home to arrange the marriage. In such haste and without investigation, the young man did not realize that the beautiful girl he had seen that day was actually not the daughter of the house but a visiting niece. And so on his wedding day, the poor groom found that instead of looking at the radiant smiling girl he had expected, he was to be married to her fat and rather plain cousin. The story does have a rather happy ending though, as his wife was a wealthy woman!

Chap Goh Meh in Mandarin was called Yuan Xiao, but in the traditional Hokkien dialect of Penang, Chap Goh Meh means the 15th night of Chinese New Year. It is celebrated with prayers and offerings to mark the end of the Chinese New Year.

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Chap Goh Mei considered as Chinese Valentine’s Day

CHAP Goh Mei, which is Hokkien for “15th night”, symbolises the end of the Chinese New Year. The festival’s origins are uncertain, as there are many legends surrounding it.

To some, Chap Goh Mei is known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. This is because a long time ago Chap Goh Mei was the only day that young maidens were allowed to dress up and stroll on the street, albeit having to be accompanied by fierce chaperones.

Young men would then go out, hoping to catch a sight of the rarely-seen maidens

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Chap Goh Meh Celebration

Chap Goh Meh (literally means the fifteenth night) marks the end of the Lunar New Year Celebration and is also known as the Chinese Valentines Day. Since both Chinese New Year and Valentines Day fell on the same day (14th Feb), some may not have celebrated it, so Chap Goh Meh, which is on 28th Feb this year, is the same but, actually, not entirely the same.

See, on the normal VDay, usually 2 person ( a couple ) celebrate together; and singles will sulk at home lol.. But during the Chinese VDay, alot of people celebrate together, and families would also have a reunion dinner. Even for the singles, there’s a tradition where they gather and throw mandarin oranges into the sea in hopes that their future spouse will pick it up. This tradition is said to be originated from Penang, is it true ? Well anyway, to join the fun we googled and found out a couple few places to go during Chap Goh Meh. Tasik Taman Jaya in Petaling Jaya was one of them. It was actually our first time celebrating it so we weren’t quite sure what to expect.

Yeah, look at the amount of people.. This was from afar so I assumed there were more people further. We arrived at 10pm ish and we see alot of people walking out so we though maybe  there wouldn’t be so much people but boy oh boy, there are also alot of people walking into the park as well,

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Chap Goh Mei

Chap Goh Mei is generally the last day of the Chinese New Year Festival, and the fifteenth day of the first month in the Lunar Calendar. It is also known as Yuan Xiao in the Hokkien dialect. Some people also refer to the festival as the Lantern Festival. In various region and countries, this festival is also regarded as the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day.

Chap Goh Mei is celebrated by eating grand meals with families and relatives. Prayers are conducted and offerings are made in conjunction with the festival. If you go to temples, you can see many devotees performing prayers, asking the God of Prosperity to bless them with success and wealth in the coming year. Most families give offerings to the deities in the form of candles and joss sticks, which flicker in the wind. Houses are decorated with red lanterns.

According to Chinese tradition, at the start of a new year, when there is a bright full moon shining at night, there should be thousands of colourful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate. Children will go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns, and solving riddles posted on them. The Chinese will also enjoy a nice family reunion and eat Yuanxiao (glutinous rice ball), a dish associated with Chap Goh Mei. There would also be many festive activities such as lion dance and other unique cultural performances.

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2014 Valentine's Day is a Full Moon Day

2014 Full Moon Valentine Day

2014 Valentine's Day is a Full Moon Day in US time zones. It will be a romantic night for people in love. The Valentine's Day is on February 14th. People celebrate Valentine's Day by sending flowers, candy, gifts, poems, cards and e-cards to those they love.

February 14, 2014 is Friday. It's a good time to ask your lover for a Valentine's dinner. You have better making reservation for a table by the window at your favorite restaurant a little bit early. So you have the chance to enjoy a memorable Valentine's night. If you cannot find the perfect spot, then you may schedule an outdoor event and let moonlight shine and warm up your love.

In China, February 14, 2014 is also the Chinese Lantern Festival, which is the 15th lunar day of the first Chinese lunar month. The first day of the first Chinese lunar month is the Chinese New Year Day, which is on  January 31, 2014 (China time zone). Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year holiday for 15 days. The last day of Chinese New Year celebration is the Lantern Festival.

It's an excellent night to invite your lover for a dinner. After dinner, you can go to watch the Lantern Display. That's will be a perfect and unforgettable Valentine's night.
If you miss the dating at Valentine's night, then you still can try on the next day, Saturday. The Moon of February 15, 2014 is still near-full.

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