Last night, after a leisurely dinner — from 7.30pm to almost 11pm — at JAAN par André, a fine dining restaurant on the 70th floor of the Swisshotel Stamford, the six of us piled into E1’s roomy Merc, so that she could drop E2 off at her home near Bugis Junction and for HTK to pick up his car and drive the other two home.
On the short jounrey, one of us — HTK I think — remarked how quiet the streets were, between Raffles City and Bugis. And one of us responded that most people must have gone to the Singapore River to throw oranges.
Back came a 3rd voice to point out that hello, this was Saturday nite and Chap Goh Meh or the 15th day of the Chinese New Year — when it’s supposed to be a tradition for singletons to throw oranges into a river to snare a mate — fell on Sunday, ie the following nite.
To which LW in her joking way said she had thrown many oranges over the years — good oranges, bad oranges — but the trick didn’t work. We all laughed.
But in her words I saw light, leading to what i call an Eureka moment.
Why do singletons throw oranges on the 15th or last day of the official Chinese New Year celebrations and not on any other day? Of course, the fact that the 15th day falls on full moon nite may help promote romance for those orange throwers.
However, from LW’s light-hearted remark about bad oranges, coupled with the fact that this unseasonably hot Chinese New Year had led many of us to throw out oranges which had turned bad well be4 their “use by” date, I found another explanation.
In the days of yore, without refrigeration, oranges couldn’t have been edible by Chap Goh Meh. As more thrifty ways prevailed back then, clever minds won’t have rested till a good use was found for those expiring oranges, while at the same time doing away with the need to hire collectors to get rid of the orange rubbish.
And voila, a tradition was born! Singletons throwing oranges no longer good for eating in the hope of snaring a mate is the ideal answer.
Who knows but some matches might indeed be made in the ensuing mêlée!