Sally alerted me this morning that today is Chinese Valentine’s day! Chinese Valentine’s Day, or Qixi Festival (Chinese: 七夕), falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar. “Chinese Valentine’s Day” seems recent years’ festival in China; similar to western’s Valentine’s Day, lovers celebrate! You may wonder why? There are many variations of the story; here is a common one.
The Story Behind Chinese Valentine’s Day
A young cowherd named Niulang, came across seven fairy sisters bathing in a lake. Encouraged by his mischievous companion the ox, he steals their clothes and waits to see what will happen. The fairy sisters elect the youngest and most beautiful sister Zhinv (who represents the star Vega) to retrieve their clothing.
She agrees to do so, but since Niulang has seen her naked, she must agree to his request for marriage. She proves to be a wonderful wife, and Niulang to be a good husband. They lived happily and had two children. But the Goddess of Heaven finds out that Zhinv, a fairy girl, has married a mere mortal human. She is furious and orders her to return to Heaven.
Down on Earth, Niulang is very upset that his wife is gone. Suddenly, his cow begins to talk, telling him that if he kills him and puts on his hide, he will be able to go up to Heaven to find his wife. Crying bitterly, he killed the cow, put on the skin. Carrying his two children with him, he went off to Heaven to find Zhinv. The Goddess found out that he had come and was very angry. Taking out her hairpin, the Goddess scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers forever (thus forming the Milky Way, which separates Altair and Vega).
Zhinv must sit forever on one side of the river, sadly weaving on her loom, while Niulang watches her from afar and takes care of their two children.
But once a year all the magpies in the world would take pity on them and fly up into heaven to form a bridge (“the bridge of magpies”, Que Qiao) over the star Deneb in the Cygnus constellation so the lovers may be together for a single night, which is the seventh night of the seventh moon.
It is said that if it rains on the night of Qi Xi, it is the tears of Niulang and Zhinü crying at the misery of their life because the magpies will not come on a night that rains.
Different Ways to Celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day
In eastern China’s Hangzhou city, the second Xiaoshan Qixi festival will mark the occasion with an evening of dance, crafts and local cuisine. (Source: Xinhuanet.com)
Many households in the area will place fruit outside their windows this evening to pay homage to the star Vega (the weaving maid) and a competition that involves young girls threading a needle will be held under moonlight. These activities originate from the Han Dynasty (206BC–220AD) and are widely spread in Xiaoshan.
A hairstylist in Ningbo, east China’s Zhejiang Province, created a special hairstyle for a young man to improve his prospects in finding a sweetheart on the Chinese Valentine’s Day on August 26, the Qianjiang Evening News reports.
Shanghai is also celebrating the occasion with the Lover’s Wall area on The Bund undergoing a complete renovation to give a new look to the festival. The surrounding area has been covered with marble and the fence around the wall now sports an ancient, more romantic style.
Fresh colors have added to the wall’s attractiveness with many couples choosing the location over more modern-day options to spend time with each other.
In Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, a large-scale festival will be held at the Huaqing Pool. Residents have been invited to contribute love stories, with 77 pieces, representing the seventh day of the seventh month, being read aloud. 77 couples will participate in a collective wedding ceremony, Tang Dynasty style.