[Penang, Malaysia] Afternoon tea on "Chap Goh Meh" at the Seven Terraces

The traditional 15-day Chinese New Year celebrations drew to a close today, Friday 26 February, which coincided with the 15th Day of the First Lunar Month on the Chinese calendar. It is known as “Chap Goh Meh”, literally “The 15th Night” as one will see the first full moon for the Year of the Ox.

In Chinese mythology, the Goddess Nüwa (女媧) is the creator of the world. Nüwa and her brother, Fuxi, were the only survivors of a devastating calamity which wiped out all other life. Seeking refuge in Kunlun Mountain they appealed to the King of Heaven to help them. Their request was granted, and the siblings set about creating all the creatures in the world.

On the seventh day after the creation of the world, Nüwa created human beings from yellow clay. With the divine power entrusted to her, Nüwa made the clay figurines come to life (a bit like how Zeus brought Diana aka Wonder Woman to life in the DC Comics-Warner universe. :grin:).

Just sharing a bit about the first 7 days of Chinese New Year:
1st Day ’Birthday of the Chicken’ - The Chinese will tog up in new clothes and pay relatives and friends house-visits. There is the tradition of welcoming all guests with tea and sweet treats, such as sugared fruits which are supposed to sweeten one’s upcoming year. Sweets and fruits are served on a round or octagonal tray - the form resembling togetherness and hence the tray is most commonly translated as the “Tray of Togetherness”. Abstaining from meat consumption on the first day is believed to enhance longevity.
2nd Day ‘Birthday of the Dog’ - Tsai Shen, the God of Wealth, leaves for heaven on the second day of the lunar New Year. The Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. Since the day is the birthday of dogs, both pet dogs and stray dogs will be fed well.
3rd Day ‘Birthday of the Pig’
4th Day ‘Birthday of the Sheep’
5th Day ‘Birthday of the Ox’ - The day is regarded as the birthday of the God of Wealth and hence respect is payed to the god. Also, it is considered not too wise to leave the house for too long, just in case the God of Wealth should pay a visit to the family’s house. All businesses will be reopened on that day.
6th Day ‘Birthday of the Horse’ - The sixth day marks a time to visit temples, relatives and friends.
7th Day ‘Birthday of Man’ - The seventh day of the first lunar month is named renrì (Traditional Chinese: 人日, Pinyin: rén rì), literally Human Day and is considered to be the birthday of ordinary, or common men. To celebrate the goddess Nüwa’s creation of the animals and Man, a raw fish-vegetable salad, yusheng, will be served.

Skipping now to the final day of the 15-day festival - Chinese-Americans, sticking quite close to the traditions in the old country, will light lanterns and serve “tangyuan” (rice-flour balls stuffed with peanuts or sesame seeds).

In Singapore and Malaysia, we serve “pengat”, a sweet dessert of various types of tubers plus bananas, simmered in sweetened coconut milk and scented with pandan leaves.

Filled up to the gills with non-stop feasting the past fortnight, we decided to have a light afternoon tea, instead of another heavy dinner, on “Chap Goh Meh”. Our destination of choice was Seven Terraces, a boutique hotel in the oldest quarter of George Town, which serves afternoon tea by its pool.

The afternoon tea-set for two came in a two-tier stand:

It consisted of cucumber sandwishes, smoked salmon sandwiches and a fusion-Nyonya creation: otak-otak (spicy fish mousse) vol-au-vent.

Selection of fruitcake slices, Mandarin orange cake and couverture-dipped orangettes.

Seven Terraces is a really lovely space, brimming with Chinese antiques collected by owner, Chris Ong (seen at bottom-left in this pic, in blue shirt,), a hotelier & art collector.

Seven Terraces
Stewart Lane, 10200 George Town, Penang
Tel: +604-264 2333
For afternoon tea - call ahead to enquire as it’s a fairly new offering. For Fri-Sun (Feb 26 to 28), it’s available 2.30pm to 5pm.


As usual, thanks for the extra info, Peter.

Hopefully I don’t give offence if I have this wrong, but may I offer “gong hei fat choy”.

Manchester has obviously done without our traditional dragon parade this year but I think that’s the greeting usually offered by our local Chinese community at this time.


1 Like

What a festive way to celebrate the last day of Lunar New Year.

I know close to nothing about the mythology of Korean New Year. Your post motivates me to learn.

1 Like

Thanks, John! No, we never take offense at any greeting which wishes us “great happiness and prosperity”! It’s used most often on the first day of Chinese New Year, i.e. 12 Feb, this year, and somewhat tapers off in the subsequent days. But, yes, we still give that greeting up till “Chap Goh Meh”, i.e. 26 Feb.

There are so many things we could not do this year which involved crowds. Last year, Penang has its traditional “Chap Goh Meh” parade, which ended up at the City Hall, drawing thousands of people. Zilch this year.

Some pics from last year, where I was part of the State Chinese Penang Association’s delegation, which has been organizing the annual “Chap Goh Meh” parade since 1925. Since we are the Straits Chinese (i.e. with a hybrid Chinese-Malay culture), our dress differs from the Chinese. These are the women from our association - first picture clad in what Penang-Nyonyas call t’ng sar (called baju panjang in Malacca and Singapore). In the second picture, the women are clad in sarong-kebayas, which is of Indonesian origin but has been adopted by the Straits Chinese in the last 2 centuries to become our own.

The “Chap Goh Meh” crowds at the Penang Esplanade.