This morning I walked into a new colleague’s office to tell her I would be taking the coming Monday off. Her startling response was “Why? Are you going to be throwing oranges into the lake tonight?”
Un-Chinese girl that I am, I had completely forgotten that tonight is Tzap Goh Meh (the fifteenth night of the Lunar New Year). And un-Chinese girl that I am, I pointed out, “That’s for married women only.”
After she swiftly reminded me that it’s the single women who throw oranges into the [insert water source of choice here] in the hopes of marrying the hapless men who fish them out of the water, she said she had heard on the radio that the girls who do it these days usually write or tape their phone numbers to the outside of their oranges, thus enabling the myth that they will end up marrying the men who pick their oranges.
“Apparently, one guy picked up an orange that had nothing written or stuck on it, but had a slit in the peel. The girl had put a SIM card with RM1 credit into the orange, so he could use it to call her when he found it. They’re now dating; it’s so cute!” my colleague gushed. She also took care to mention that she reminded herself to tell me all this, which I in turn thought was cute of her; I suppose I do seem the kind who might require a little help in the ever-competitive spousehunt.
“The DJ also said you can tell a lot about a girl based on the kind of orange she throws,” my colleague added. “For instance, if it’s a Valencia orange, it means she’s ‘into Hollywood’. And if it’s a satsuma orange, it means she likes J-Pop.” This last bit I discounted, if for no other reason than the fact that I don’t discriminate against oranges does not mean I am chronically starstruck or like Japanese music.
I did find it interesting, however, that the modern women of today still put enough stock in tradition to take to the waters in their quest for a husband. Granted, adhering their phone numbers to their oranges can be considered cheating, because this effectively forces along the tradition and goes against the original belief itself. I’m fairly certain the women from the pre-Alexander Bell days had only their faith to strap on to their oranges before lobbing them into the water, but maybe they also had less competition and more equal opportunities back then, when their skirts weren’t allowed to go too high.
The one thing that concerns me is the concept of total randomness practiced in this custom. Technology may have made it possible for at least one spousal candidate to make himself known, but all the technology in the world will not change the fact that he could be an utter lunatic. As my colleague so pricelessly advised, “Don’t throw your orange into the Klang River, though. You don’t know what kind of people will pick it up from those banks.”