Celebrating Valentine’s Day and Chap Goh Meh
During that day, we may expect to see lovers flocking the street or at restaurants all over town hand in hand or arm in arm looking at each other for a full five minutes without uttering a single word.
On top of that, we may also expect flowers and candy decking the shelves at every gift store and, more recently, stalls on the street since nothing seems to show love more than a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates and a greeting card signed “Be my Valentine”.
Valentine’s Day is not only a special day to celebrate love with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you can even celebrate it with people who you love such as family and friends. Heck, you can even celebrate it with random lonely strangers who you think need some love.
A few days ago, I came across a video of a college guy going around campus giving roses to random women he came across. He said, “Hi, I just want to give this rose to you hoping that it could make you smile.” Aww…..ain’t that sweet!
So, for those single guys out there this might be a good idea on how you can show your sweet, sensitive side and if you are lucky, you might pick up a few numbers along the way!
While Valentine’s Day as we know it today is a day for celebrating love, the origin of Valentine’s Day is not one full of kisses and candy, but blood and tragedy.
Although the history of Valentine’s Day is a bit obscure and further clouded by various versions of legends, the root of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalis or Lupercalia, a fertility celebration that used to be observed annually on February 15th .
In this festival, men sacrificed goats and dogs, and then whipped women with the hides of these dead animals. It was believed that this ritual would make women fertile. Romantic? No. Gruesome? Yes.
With the rise of Christianity in Europe, many pagan holidays were renamed for and dedicated to early Christian martyrs. So in 496 AD, Pope Gelasius I recast the pagan festival as a Christian feast declaring February 14th St. Valentine’s Day.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least 3 Christian saints by the name of Valentine, a priest in Rome, a bishop in Terni and one who met his end in Africa. Mysteriously, all three of them were said to be martyred on February 14th.
But, it was the first Valentine that Pope Gelasius intended to honour because it was believed that he was a priest who lived in Rome around 270 AD and was sentenced to death by the Roman Emperor Claudius II who ruled during that time.
The story goes back to when Emperor Claudius II prohibited young men to marry as he found that they made better soldiers if they were not emotionally distracted by their loved ones and families. During this time, the golden era of the Roman Empire had come and gone and naturally, more and more capable young men were recruited as soldiers to protect the nation. Believing that marriage made men weaker, he prohibited soldiers from marrying.
Typically, in any unjust situation, a hero would rise to save the day. Valentine took pity upon the young lovers by secretly performing many marriages. But then, just like any movie upon reaching its happiest point, he was discovered and sentenced to jail.
In prison, Valentine formed a friendship with his jailor, Asterius. It was said that Valentine had the power to heal and with that he miraculously restored the sight of Asterius’ blind daughter. It was said that Valentine has either formed a great friendship with Asterius’ daughter or that they had been romantically involved. And so, just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper and signed a farewell message to her, “From your Valentine.”
The 15th night of the Lunar New Year
Moving from the west to the east, today also happens to be a night of love according to the Chinese lunar calendar as it is the 15th day of the lunar new year celebration -Chap Goh Meh, also known as the Lantern Festival.
During this time, families will gather together in the streets to enjoy the beautiful display of lanterns. Aside from that, they might also enjoy glutinous rice balls during the festival. It was believed that the round shape of the ball and also the plate used to serve the balls symbolise family togetherness and that eating them may bring good luck to the family.
Back in the old days, the festival also provided young single people the chance to meet face to face. During the dynastic rule of China, curfews were imposed to ensure safety, but the festival was one of the few days in the year where people were allowed to be outdoors after dark.
This was a privilege for young, shy, unmarried girls who were traditionally prohibited to leave the family compound. On this day, these young people were chaperoned in the streets in the hope of finding love while matchmakers worked in the hopes of pairing couples.
Imagine demure young ladies dressed in their finest walking slowly around town to give young unmarried gentlemen the chance to gawk at them and then politely look away when they were caught looking.
Today, Chap Goh Meh is widely considered to be a night of courtship (similar to Valentine’s Day) in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. The tradition of single women tossing oranges into the sea or river in the hopes of finding a good husband on this day began in Penang.
So, since February seems to be the month full of love and romance, we asked for some Valentine’s Day greetings.
Sharon Chong Siaw Hui, 25, Teacher
Dear loved ones, Valentine’s Day reminds me to appreciate your companions (: Cheers to more great journeys to come!
Belinda Kinu, 24, Student
I would like to wish Happy Valentine’s Day to my family, friends and my love, Mr Morris Juna.
Dear Morris, ever since I met you, you taught me the meaning of true love. You are always besides me whenever I faced the roller coaster in my life. Thank you for loving me & I will always love you, dear.
Apart from that, I would like to celebrate the V-Day with my lovely family & friends. I have such a wonderful family who always vested in their love every second to each other. Not to forget, to my friends, I love them so much as they are always cheer me up. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone & spread the love!
Nazlinna Elnie, 25, Medical laboratory Technologist
Happy Valentine’s Day to my beloved husband, Stanley Ifeanyi. Thank you for the best memories we have shared. I will love you and honour you for as long as I live.
Audrey Mering, 28, Travel agent employee
Happy Valentine my big boy. To think that you still love me even though I’m not perfect, makes me love you even more. If love is blind, then why is lingerie so popular?
Pamela Lynn, 27, hotel employee
I’m flying off today to see you and to give you a big hug! Happy Valentine Baby @Jurd!! Love, Pammy.
Jeffrey Ong, 31, operation technician
To my girlfriend, Happy Valentine’s Day. Please don’t spend my money :p To my first and eternal love, my mother, Happy Valentine’s Day and I love you! And also Happy Chap Goh Meh!
Rahman Sallehin, 23, student
To my lecturer, Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Miss L from your fellow students! You are the most awesome woman I know who is great and kind in giving out the way for your students to grow up and mature; not to mention supporting them all the way! And I really appreciate that! Thank you!
Yvonne Joeng, 23, student
If you’re alone on Valentine’s Day, it is priceless for you. Otherwise you would spend a few hundred $$$. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Nadiatul Zahidah, 25, customer service assistant
Happy Valentine’s Day to my fiancé Mohd Syarizan bin Philip. I love you, not only for who you are but for what I am when I am with you, The small acts you performed to make me happy shows just how much you love me and it is the feeling of being in love so madly that will keep me spirited even in tough times. Our love will stand the test of time. I ♥ you very much.
Doris David, 31, sales manager
I am the luckiest to have you in my life and you are in my heart forever. Distance might separate us and we will not celebrate this Valentine’s Day together again this year but my love to you remain. I love you and Happy Valentine’s Day babe….from me, Doris David.
But don’t you think that celebrating love once a year is a bit selfish and overrated when we can celebrate it with our love ones every day for the whole year?
According to the Roman Catholic roster, besides 14th February, there is also St. Valentine of Viterbo on November 3rd or St. Valentine of Raetia on January 7th.
For all the women out there, you might prefer the only female St Valentine or Valentina, a virgin martyred in Palestine on July 25th, AD308. On top of that, the Eastern Orthodox Church officially celebrates St. Valentines twice, July 6th and July 30th.
So, if you miss celebrating on the February 14th, there are other dates you can pick to celebrate love. If not, Chap Goh Meh seems to be a good date to meet somebody special. In addition to that, you get to enjoy the beautiful displays of lanterns, eating glutinous rice ball as well as enjoy the orange throwing activity in the river.
So tell me, is it better to only celebrate love once on a particular date or do you prefer celebrating it any chance you get? Happy Valentine’s Day and Chap Goh Meh everyone!