Everything About The Lantern Festival (Chap Goh Mei), Which Falls on Today (5 Feb 2023)


So, today is the last day of the Chinese New Year and also the day of the Lantern Festival, also known as Chap Goh Mei in Hokkien.

Now, don’t get it mixed up with the Mid-Autumn Festival which will be happening on 29 September this year—that’s a different one.

The Chinese Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month and for 2023, the 15th day is today (5 Feb).

The festival also marks the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations (goodbye, ang baos) and all the decorations will be taken down.

The Chinese New Year taboos will also no longer be in effect after today.

An example of a taboo that most of us know would be to not wear black or white clothes as they are unlucky, or to not give or receive odd amounts in red packets but some of us might’ve deviated from traditions because #generationchange.

Reader: But is there a rule that says we cannot eat CNY cookies from tomorrow onwards?


No, although Health Promotion Board might not be happy.


So What Do We Do On The Lantern Festival aka Chap Goh Mei?

1. Have Fun with Lanterns

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One of the most common ways to enjoy the festival would be lighting up lanterns and appreciating them. The colours of the lanterns are almost always red but it also represents good fortune.

Another meaning would also be to let go of the past year. Some couples might put up lanterns and use it as a way to wish for a baby in the year.


2. Eating Tang Yuan

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You might’ve seen these around in Chinese dessert hawker stalls. It’s basically glutinous rice balls boiled in a sweet soup.

They’re usually filled with either peanuts, red beans, or black sesame.

Of course, eating Tang Yuan isn’t just for the sake of it. The snack, or dessert, represents completeness and reunion! And also, a single Tang Yuan, with filling, has about 70 calories.

3. Watching Lion Dance

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Time to get your ears ready and catch a Lion dance.

In Chinese culture, the lion is regarded as a symbol of strength and bravery and is able to drive away bad luck. That’s one of the reasons why most Chinese shop owners would hire Lion dance groups to perform on the day of their store opening.

They’re also regarded as a symbol of good luck!

Click here to find out locations where the next lion dance will be happening today.

The History of the Lantern Festival (Chap Goh Mei)

The story of the Lantern Festival dates back to over 2,000 years ago and has far too many origin stories.

But here’s one of the more popular ones:

The Jade Emperor once had a favourite pet crane. Unfortunately, it was killed by some villagers. Filled with rage and anger, the Emperor decided to set the whole village on fire on the 15th day of the lunar year.


His daughter, who felt bad, went to warn the village (she basically decided to snitch). A wise man from the village came up with a plan and told the villagers to hang up red lanterns to give the impression that the village was already in flames.

The trick worked and the Emperor was fooled. The tradition of hanging red lanterns continued afterward until it became the Lantern Festival.

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