Love is in the air again …. but wait, it’s only August? In the West, Valentine’s Day falls on February 14 of each year. However, in Chinese culture, Qixi Festival or Chinese Valentine’s Day is held on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. This year, the date lands on August 28th.
While many don’t know where Qixi originated from, most are just happy receiving and giving gifts, but there is a sad story behind this festival that will make the story of Romeo and Juliet seem rather less tragic.
The story begins with a lonely cowherd named Niulang who comes across a beautiful immortal fairy named Zhinü, the “weavergirl”. The Goddess’s seventh daughter had escaped the heavens in search for fun and adventure. When Niulang first laid eyes on Zhinü he instantly fell in love and the two were soon married without the knowledge of the great Goddess. Over the next few years Zhinü gave birth to 2 beautiful children and the family lived a peaceful and happy life…. until the day the Goddess of Heaven learned her immortal daughter married a mortal and immediately ordered Zhinü to return to Heaven.
Upon the disappearance of his wife, Niulang became very upset and distraught and prayed to see his wife again. Soon after, his prayers were soon answered and his beloved ox began to speak. The ox told Niulang if he killed him and wore his hide he would be able to go up to the heavens to find his wife. With tears in his eyes, Niulang did as he was told and killed the ox, put on the skin and carried his two beloved children off to heaven to find his wife. It wasn’t soon after that the Goddness discovered what Niulang was up to and immediately took out her hairpin and scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers forever, creating the Milky Way.
Divided forever, Niulang and Zhinü would watch over each other from afar. But once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers for just one day, Chinese Valentine’s Day. Many say that the light drizzle that often coincides with the date of Chinese Valentine’s Day is the tears of the two lovers.
Interesting Festival Traditions
- Weaving and embroidery female competitions were held to see who was most skilled and creative, for example, passing a thread through the eyes of seven needles in a single breath and throwing a needle into a bowl full of water. If the needle floats, it means the girl is skilled in embroidery. These traditions are believed to increase the individual’s attractiveness and help girls to find a satisfied husband.
- Praying for luck with marriage and family. Many single women would pray for finding a good husband in the future and newly married women would pray to become pregnant quickly.
- Many children would pick wild flowers and hang them on oxen’s horns to thank the ox who sacrificed himself to help the two lovers reunite.
- Now-a-days young Chinese people now celebrate this day as westerners would celebrate Valentine’s Day, with dinner, chocolates and flowers.
Whether celebrating alone or with your significant other, don’t forget to look up to the night skies as you may witness something that happens only once a year…
For those looking for gift ideas for the upcoming Qixi Festival please come by 1016 Alberni Street to view our wide selection of 24K gold, jade, pearls, diamonds, colored gemstones and more! Make a purchase over $520 and receive a complimentary bouquet of flowers for your loved one that can be picked up in-store during business hours on Monday, Aug 28th.