We hope you’ve got something romantic planned for Qixi Festival! This festival, sometimes called the Double Seventh Festival because falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar is 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.
Depending on your location, couples often watch out for this annual event. However, most of the countries that commemorate the Qixi Festival celebrate it on the same day.
Want to find out more about Chinese Valentine’s Day, traditionally known as the Qixi Festival? Then get your hearts ready as we will be talking about the myth behind the Qixi Festival and why we celebrate it until today.
Qixi Festival or Chinese Valentine’s Day
Do you consider yourself a romantic? We can’t decide if the traditional Chinese myth of the Qixi Festival is beautiful, or heartbreaking.
The legend of the Qixi Festival comes from two ill-fated lovers, Zhinü and Niulang. Niulang was a mere mortal and cow herder. Zhinü worked as a weaver who escaped from heaven due to boredom. She also hailed as one of the daughters 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 symbolised 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.
The Story Behind The Festival
Don’t go away as we look deeper into the story behind the Qixi Festival.
There was a cowherd called Niulang, and an old ox. The ox was the God of Cattle, but he was downgraded as he had violated the law of heaven. Niulang had once saved the ox when it was sick.
To show its gratitude, the old ox helped Niulang get acquainted with Zhinü (a fairy, the seventh daughter of a Goddess and the Jade Emperor).
Zhinü soon fell in love with Niulang and they got married without the knowledge of the Goddess of Heaven. Niulang and Zhinü lived a happy life together. After a few years passed, they had two children.
The Goddess of Heaven was furious and sent celestial soldiers to bring Zhinü back. Niulang was very upset when he learned his wife was taken back.
The ox asked Niulang to kill him and put on his skin, so he would be able to go up to heaven to find his wife. Unwillingly, he killed the ox and carried his two beloved children off to heaven to find Zhinü.
The goddess of heaven created more obstacles in front of Niulang. She took out her hairpin and created a huge river. He and Zhinü were separated forever by the river that later became known as the Milky Way.
Dejected Niulang and his children would weep bitterly. This moved the magpies, who took pity on them, and they flew up into heaven to form a Magpie bridge over the river for Niulang and Zhinü to meet.
The Goddess of Heaven was also moved by their undevoted love. She allowed them a meeting on the Magpie Bridge on that day every year. This was the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.
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Qixi Festival Celebrations
Traditional celebrations for the Qixi Festival involve young women praying to marry someone kind and loving as well as praying to Zhinü for wisdom and for the skills that will make them good wives.
In the past, people also called the Qixi Festival as the Daughters’ Festival or the Begging For Skills Festival.
Another traditional Qixi Festival celebration involved placing a festoon in a common area like someone’s yard. Both single and newlywed women 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.
Unfortunately, not a lot of women celebrate the tradition nowadays. Those who celebrate the Qixi Festival only know of its significance to lovers. Because of this, most people compare it to Valentine’s Day.
As 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.
How Can I Celebrate the Qixi Festival?
Before you plan a trip to countries that commemorate the festival, we suggest you remember the event’s dates. Unlike Valentine’s Day, people celebrate the Qixi Festival on the 7th day of the 7th month on the Chinese Lunar Calendar.
Some lovers take note of these dates to arrive early or on the day of the festival. With this, they either have time to fully participate or just witness the festivities. To help you plan annual trips with your partner, check out the dates from 2022-2025.
|Qixi Festival Date
|4th of August
|22nd of August
|10th of August
|29th of August
Practices You Can Expect or Witness
As we mentioned earlier, not a lot of people celebrate all the traditions involved in the Qixi Festival. However, you can still expect some practices in certain areas.
Couples often want to witness the traditional event to strengthen their love. Some even travel to areas that welcome visitors into participating in the beloved festival. Below, we listed a few customs you can still witness:
- Worship and offerings to Weaver Zhinü. For this, people prepare tables with wine, tea, peanuts, hazelnuts, red dates, etc. During the evening, women who celebrate the festival gather to offer their needlework and pray for a happy life with a good partner.
- Demonstration of Dexterity. In the evening, women participate in needlework or carving on melon skin.
- Children honouring the oxen. Little ones who participate in the Qixi Festival pick flowers to hang on the horns of oxen.
- Crafting and feasting on the ‘Skill Fruit.’ People who commemorate the event cook and feast on thin pastries moulded into different shapes.
These practices and customs often come up in rural areas that annually commemorate the Qixi Festival. However, most people only remember the worship of Weaver Zhinü or the feasting on the Skill Fruit.
If you want the full experience with your partner, we encourage you to visit areas that specialise in the event. Moreover, some of those areas encourage some women to participate in the pleading of skills.
This article was updated by Kaira De la Rosa.