Love is in the air again as the Qixi Festival is coming. It is also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day.
Qixi Festival – also known as the Double Seventh Festival, or Chinese Valentine’s Day – falls annually on the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar, and for this year that day falls on August 25. The younger generation may not be as familiar with this Chinese tradition, or may not celebrate it anymore, but Qixi Festival has been observed for over 2000 years, dating back to a legendary romantic tale in the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).
Many customs and practices are associated with the Qixi Festival. Traditionally, it is a day when women dress up in Hanfu – a traditional Chinese-clothing that has a long flowing robe with loose sleeves and a belt at the waist – and spend the day preparing offerings of tea, wine, flowers, and various fruits to pray to Zhinu for wisdom and to grant their wishes. Single women would pray to the celestial couple to grant them a good spouse, and newly married women would wish to bear a baby. Later in the night, the women will gather around and compete with each other on threading a needle.
The legend behind the Chinese Valentine’s Day revolves around two star-crossed lovers, Zhinhu, a weaver girl and daughter of a powerful goddess, and Niulang, a humble cowherd. Niulang met Zhinhu, fell in love with each other, got married, lived a happy life together, and eventually gave birth to two children, a boy, and a girl. However, when Zhinhu’s mother discovers that her daughter married a mere mortal, she brings her back to heaven and casts a massive river between earth and heaven to separate the couple – this river is what we refer to today as the Milky Way.
And so the plot thickens, the magpies on land were touched by the love between Zhinhu and Niulang, so they helped the couple by forming a bridge on the river allowing Zhinhu to cross. Their love moved Zhinhu’s mother and eventually permitted the couple to meet once a year, on that very same day, which is the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.
This romantic tale has inspired Chinese couples for generations making them believe the art of love.