To the Chinese the world over, the Chinese New Year festivities come to an end on the 15th Day of the First Lunar Month - and this year, that fell on 15th February.
For the Straits-born Chinese (Baba-Nyonya) community of Singapore, Malacca and Penang, that day is traditionally called Chap Goh Meh, and special dinner get-togethers and dance parties would be held to herald the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
The Straits-born Chinese, who’re mainly Fujianese/Hokkien Chinese who’ve settled in South-east Asia for centuries, are unique for their culture of adapting Indonesian/Malay traditions, cultural practices, dress, and the culinary arts, and fusing them with their own Chinese traditions, resulting in the unique Baba-Nyonya culture, known for its vibrant performance & visual arts, its love for strong, bright colours, and excellent cuisine.
Because of the pandemic, the traditional Dondang Sayang bus parade, a Penang Baba-Nyonya tradition of brightly-decorated buses ferrying singers and musicians making their way around the city, had to be cancelled for the second year running. But the Penang Straits-born Chinese Association still organized a smaller-scale dinner get-together at Lot 33 last Tuesday (Feb 15).
Nyonya women in traditional sarong-kebaya wear, adopted from the Indonesians/Malays, usually donned for celebratory occasions such as this. Baba men will normally wear Indonesian batik shirts.
Our Chap Goh Meh dinner spread:
Four Seasons appetiser platter: Penang-Nyonya otak-otak, lor bak, jiu hu char, and prawns fritters with coleslaw
Spicy curried chicken “rendang” with Chinese steamed mantou buns
“Hu peo” (fish maw), chicken, mushroom & vegetable soup
Steamed fish with spicy Nyonya dressing
Yangzhou fried rice
Dessert: Bubur cha cha (sweet potato, taro & black-eyed peas in sweetened coconut milk).
For such a large event - up to 500 guests, the cooking was of a very high standard.
Lot 33, Prangin Mall
33, Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, 10100 George Town, Penang
tel: +604-250 5505
Operating hours: 11am to 8pm (or late), daily