Lao Tia Meh

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.

lao tia meh

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.

lao tia meh

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.

lao tia meh

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?

lao tia meh

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.



  1. after reading all the comments, i think it’s a penang hokkien phrase because we’ve always had ‘lao tia meh’ here (in Pg)… couldn’t help it but to ask my dad what’s the ‘origin’ of lao tia meh… he said he also dunno but he said ‘lao’ is probably referring to ‘lao juak’ (you know this one??) but he dunno what’s the ‘tia’ referring to LOL

    in english, maybe we can call it as wedding eve party? (my dad suggested one… )

    • I’ve heard lao juak before, but can’t remember what it means. LOL! I suspect not very many people even knows the actual meaning of the phrase lao tia meh. They just do it because it is tradition 😀

  2. I really have no idea what “lao tia meh” is, haha, it does sound like some vulgar words to me though, hehehe!! something new I learn too, this is the first time I heard of the phrase, is it Hokkien or specifically Penang Hokkien?? do we really have a term for this, I usually referred to that by the description/purpose of the function only~~ :p

    • I am not sure myself if this is specific Penang or generally Hokkien. I’m actually surprised so many people have no idea about this event.

  3. hee..hee.. another way of interpreting “lao tia meh” is “old father scolds” as in “lao tia” = old father, and “meh” = scold. Of course the pronunciation/intonation is different. I am Hokkien but I don’t know about this tradition. With such a variety of good food, I would have stuffed myself silly. Are you sure you were so modest in your food intake or was that photo just for your mum’s benefit? 😀

    • So not all Hokkien knows this.. Hmm, then maybe it is just Penangite Hokkiens. It’s too confusing, I shall not dwell on it anymore 🙄
      *Refer to my reply to STP’s comment* 😉

  4. Haha laughing now lah !! When I see the title, I thought you got into a fight and either you or the other party asked ‘lau ta meh?’ (wana fight meh).. But then I was thinking izzit lau ta coz you wrote tia.. hmmmppp.. I call it hens nite for the girls or bachelor nite for the boys la..

    • This one is not hen’s night. Hen’s night is western culture, and it only involves the bride and her female friends. This one is Chinese one, is more a family matter, all the extended family and relatives, and friends are invited. Hmm, I thought this is a common practice, because some of my friends in KL also do such parties, but maybe it is because they are Hokkien kot..

        • I thought this usually happens like a week or two before the big day, hmm.. Here every time there is bachelor’s night, there is always mention about having to sneak the passport out from home so that we can go some place secret 😀

  5. That’s Hokkien? Foochows do not practise that – I remember the bride and groom should not meet the day before the wedding. I’m Foochow. WHAT???? All the nice food and that was all you ate? Shy shy kah?

    • I purposely took the photo of the plate when I almost finish eating, see the satay sticks? Health conscious lah, cannot overeat again 😀
      The groom was not there, only bride that night, they have feasts at their respective homes.

  6. Got such word ah? Hen’s night I know, where all the cakes and cupcakes are made to look like men’s private parts and all but this lao lao word i dunno… i no speak hokkien 😛

  7. Hahaha, I learn a new Hokkien phrase today from you. I know of this custom but not the Hokkien name for it. Never did this for my marriage. I see your friend prepared a lot of food – must be many people going for her lao tia meh. I see ketupat or nasi himpit – I like!

    • Huh? No ketupat ah.. The tray beside the satay are all cucumbers and onions. If it is the white colour kuih you meant, they are 白糖糕 bak tong gou (white sugar kuih)..

      • Oh, bak tong gou. I thought is nasi himpit or ketupat. But with so much food, no need to have ketupat I guess.

        I am surprise Chinese here do not know of this custom. My cousins and in laws all did this and they are Cantonese and Hakka. Before the jip sang liong day, the groom and bride will do this in their respective homes.

        There will be a prayer ceremony and a comb hair ceremony and what nots. I think this tradition will slowly die since new generations either don’t know about this or prefer to do away with it like I did.

        • Yeah, I remember it was to be more things going on. I think it is a whole day event, but yesterday we just went for dinner 😀

  8. haha…what heck is lao tia meh??? i also never heard of this before…sounds like some hokkien food (at least to me la)…I think the best word to describe this would be “hen’s nite” aka “bachelorette party” equivalent sort of.
    Good food u have there…got satay summore…yummm yummm

    • No, it’s not the same as hen’s night. It is specifically on the night before the wedding ceremony. Friends and relatives will be invited to the bride’s house to eat, drink and be merry. Nothing of the outrageous sort LOL!

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