Romantic or Heartbreaking, what's your opinion on the Qixi Festival?
We hope you’ve got something romantic planned for Qixi Festival happening today! This festival, sometimes called the Double Seventh Festival because it is on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar is basically seen as Chinese Valentine’s Day.
The festival is a celebration of the tale of The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd and dates back to the Han dynasty over 2,000 years ago.
Qixi festival or Chinese Valentine's Day
Do you consider yourself a romantic? We can’t decide if the traditional Chinese myth is beautiful, or heart breaking.
The legend comes from two ill-fated lovers, Zhinü and Niulang. Niulang was a mere mortal and cow herder. Zhinü was a weaver who had escaped from heaven because she was bored and one of the daughter’s of the Goddess of Heaven. The two meet, fall in love and get married. They soon have two children and all is going well for their young family.
But then one day, the Goddess of Heaven finds out about their marriage and becomes enraged that her daughter has married a mortal (Stop me if this sounds too much like your MIL!). She orders Zhinü to return to heaven and Niulang is devastated.
One of Niulang’s ox begins to speak to him and instructs him to kill it and where his hide so that Niulang can go up to Heaven and find his wife. When the Goddess of Heaven discovers this, she devises a plan to keep them apart forever by scratching a wide river in the sky.
Today, Niulang is symbolized by the star Altair and Zhinü by the star Vega, forever separated by the Milky Way. They can meet only once a year when a flock of magpies takes pity on the lovers and forms a bridge so they can reunite for just one day.
Qixi festival celebrations
Traditional celebrations for the Qixi Festival involve young women praying to marry someone who is kind and loving as well as praying to Zhinü for wisdom and for the skills that will make them good wives. The festival was sometimes called the Daughters' Festival or even Begging For Skills Festival in the past!
Another traditional celebration involved placing a festoon in a common area like someone’s yard. Both single and newlywed woman would prepare offerings of fruit, flowers and more for Niulang and Zhinü. They would gather at night to look for Vega and Altair in the night sky and pray for happy marriages and faithful husbands.
Many of these traditions have been lost in modern times. Now the festival is more for lovers than just women (hence its comparison to Valentine’s Day).
Since Zhinü was a weaver, it is popular for young women to make personalised handmade scarves or other knitted items for their boyfriends. More serious couples may plan a special romantic date including candlelit dinners, flowers and romantic movies.