The other day, I had a conversation with a friend over Skype messenger.
Friend: Leong, you going to my lao tia meh?
Me : Huh? I don’t know. Who told you that?
Friend: What who told me? I’m asking you if you want to go or not?
Me : Then why you add meh at the back? What the heck is lao tia anyway?
In my limited Hokkien vocabulary, lao = old 老, tia = listen 听, so lao tia = old listening 老听. Meh is something we use at the end of a sentence with no specific meaning, like lah and mah. For example: “You don’t know meh? You’re not coming meh?” So, dafuq is lao tia?
Friend: What lah you! Not lao tia, is lao tia meh!
Me : …… okay.. so, what is lao tia meh?
So I learned a new Hokkien phrase, Lao tia meh 留厅夜. If we translate literally, 留 = stay/remain, 厅 = living room, 夜 = night, so lao tia meh means the night where we remain in the living room? No, of course not. Apparently literal translation does not work here.
I’ve tried searching Google for an acceptable explanation to what exactly is lao tia meh and why is it called such, but I got no acceptable returns. Most websites I found talk about going to lao tia meh, how important lao tia meh is, but nobody really mention what is lao tia meh and what is the meaning behind. So I will try to explain in simple terms to the best of my knowledge.
Lao tia meh is a celebration in the bride’s home, a day before the wedding. People would typically set up canopy and engage a caterer to prepare a simple buffet spread. Relatives and friends are invitied to come have dinner, meet up with the bride and give her their best wishes, blessings and whatnot before she officially becomes Missus Someone-Else.
I think this is not just a Hokkien custom, most people who follow the Chinese traditions in Malaysia would have some sort of celebration going on at both the bride’s home and groom’s home the night before the big day. I don’t know what us Cantonese people call that. For sure it is not called lao tia meh anyway.
So, am I going to her lao tia meh? Are you kidding me?
There’s free food She’s one of my best friends, of course I will be going!
So I went. It was tonight, and I just came back from feasting on delicious food. There was satay, curry chicken, fried chicken, du ka cho 猪脚醋 (pork trotters in vinegar), sweet and sour fish, vegetables, and more..
No… wait. I did not feast like nobody’s business. I ate very little. See, my plate is not full.
And I only had a few pieces of kuih (local sweet noms). I did not gulp them down like someone who has never ate food for the past 10 weeks. And I had soup. The soup was delicious, I had 2 servings of the soup. After all, soup is something healthy, right?
In the name of anonymity, I’m not going to blog about my friend. She is getting married tomorrow. Tonight she is still a Miss, tomorrow she will officially be a Missus. She knows she has my most sincere best wishes.
Even though I spent most of the night eating rather than talking to her.