Dou­ble the love to­day

Once ev­ery 19 years, Valen­tine’s day and Chi­nese Valen­tine’s day fall on the same day.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By MAJORIE CHIEW star2@thes­

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.

Wishin’ and hopin’: The young en­joy keep­ing alive the Chap Goh Meh tra­di­tion of tossing or­anges into the sea or lake in hopes of find­ing a good life part­ner.

ba­bies born to­day will grow up to be smart, in­tu­itive and cre­ative, says feng shui con­sul­tant Kenny Hoo.

The round shape of the gluti­nous rice balls and the bowls sym­bol­ise com­plete­ness and to­geth­er­ness, says datuk david Hew, co-founder of Vis­i­ber.

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