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Qixi: Chinese Valentine’s Day

August 25, 2017
Angelina Lee
Qixi

 

Qixi

Qixi Festival (七夕) also called as Qiqiao Festival (乞巧节), the seventh day of the 7th month on the lunar calendar, falls on August 28th this year. 

It celebrates the annual meeting of the cowherd, Niu Lang(牛郎), and weaver girl, Zhi Nu(织女), in Chinese mythology. That’s why it is called the Chinese Valentine’s Day. As this time is Chinese Ghost Month (click here to read), but Chinese can be romantic during horror moment. 

 

Qixi

The Chinese people believe that the star, Vega, at the east of the Milky Way, is  called Zhi Nu and at the constellation of Aquila, on the western side of the Milky Way, called Niu Lang waits for his wife.

 

Qixi

 

Zhi Nu was said to be the youngest of seven daughters of the Queen of Heaven. With her sisters, she worked hard and weaved the most beautiful clouds in the sky. Niu Lang was a mortal orphan cowherd, driven out of his home by his elder brother and his cruel wife.

 

Qixi

 

 

One day Niu Lang went to the riverside on an evening, where the seven fairies slipped out of their Heavenly Palace to bathe. He hid the most beautiful silk dresses that the fairies had left on the bank. When the fairies left the water, the youngest couldn’t find her clothes and had to see her sisters fly back to heaven without her. Then Niu Lang came out with the dress and asked the youngest fairy, Zhi Nu, to marry him.

 

Qixi

 

Several years passed on Earth, which was only a few days in heaven. Niu Lang and Zhi Nu lived happily together and had two children before the Queen of Heaven discovered.

 

Qixi

 

She was so angry and had Zhi Nu brought back to heaven. Seeing Zhi Nu flying in the sky, Niu Lang was terrified. He caught sight of the cowhide hanging on a wall which was the cow had told him before dying of old age: “Keep the cowhide for emergency use.” Putting the cowhide on, he went after his wife with his two children.

 

Qixi

The Queen of Heaven

 

With the help of the cowhide, Niu Lang was able to follow Zhi Nu into heaven. He was about to reach his wife when the Queen of Heaven showed up and pulled off her hairpin to draw a line between the two. The line became the Milky Way.

 

Qixi

 

After back to the heaven, Zhi Nu continued with weaving the clouds. But she was so sad and missed her family so much that the clouds she weaved were bad. 

 

Qixi

 

Finally, the Queen of Heaven showed a little mercy, allowing the couple to meet once every year with the Milky Way block in between. The magpie heard about their story and was touched, so every year they will gather at the Milky Way and form a bridge in the heavens with their wings. With the help of the magpies, the family can finally reunion.

 

Qixi

 

Qixi

 

The legend has been handed down for nearly 2 millennia. 

In the past, Qixi it is an important festival for young girls. The young girls will prepare fruits and incense as offerings to Zhi Nu, praying to acquire high skills in needlecraft, as well as hoping to find satisfactory husbands.

 

Qixi

 

And now the Chinese will celebrate it like the Valentine’s Day. The men will buy a bunch of roses to their beloved one and usually, the number of the roses will be 99 or 520 or 1314 which the pronunciation are similar to forever or I love you or for one’s entire life, to show how much they love.

Funny that 80% it will rains on Qixi Festival, if it rains heavily during the night, some elderly Chinese will say it is because Zhi Nu is crying on the day she met her husband Niu Lang. 

 

Qixi

 

Chinese grannies will remind children that they would not be able to see any magpie on that evening because all the magpies have left to form a bridge in the heavens with their wings. 

 

Qixi

 

In the evening, people sit outdoors to observe the stars. Chinese grannies would say that, if you stand under a grapevine, you can probably overhear what Zhi Nu and Niu Lang are talking about.  

 

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