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The Qixi Festival Story

In China they have there own Valentine´s Day. Its called the Qixi Festival or the Double Seventh Festival, because its falling on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

This day is one of 9 Traditional Chinese Festivals and has been celebrated over 2000 years, since the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). Next year 2022 Qixi Festival falls on Tuesday August 04. China´s Valentine's Day is a festival to express peoples love for each other.

Zihinü and Niulang on a Qixi Festival love boat

The Qixi Festival is based on a romantic legend of a weaver girl Zhinü (Chinese: 织女) and an cowherd Niulang (Chinese: 牛郎). Because of this legend the Qixi Festival has a great romantic meaning, especially to young girls. The celebration is one of giving gifts to romantic partners or having a romantic date.

There’s no public holiday on this day.

The legend of the cowherd Niulang and the weaver girl Zhinü:

There once was a young, poor, but kind-hearted cowherd called Niulang, and an old ox. The ox actually was once the God of Cattle, but downgraded as he had violated the law of heaven. Niulang once saved the ox when it was sick. In order 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) when she escaped from her boring life in heaven to look for fun on Earth.

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; Niulang worked in the field while Zhinü did weaving at home. After a few years passed, they had two children, one boy and one girl.

However, the Goddess of Heaven (Zhinü's mother) found out that Zhinü, a fairy girl, had married a mere mortal. The Goddess of Heaven was furious and sent celestial soldiers to bring Zhinü back. Niulang was very upset when he found his wife was taken back to heaven. Then 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. Crying bitterly, he killed the ox, put on the skin, and carried his two beloved children off to heaven to find Zhinü.

Just before he caught up with Zhinü the Goddess of Heaven took out her hairpin and created a huge river between them, and they were separated forever by the river that later became known as the Milky Way.

Heartbroken, Niulang and his children could only weep bitterly. However, their love moved all the magpies to take pity on them, and they flew up into heaven to form a Magpie bridge over the river, so Niulang and Zhinü could meet on the Magpie Bridge. The Goddess of Heaven was also moved by their love, so she allowed them a meeting on the Magpie Bridge on that day every year: the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

In the rural regions, people usually see the meeting of Niulang and Zhinü as two stars in the sky:

Altair - Niulang
Vega - Zhinü.

Qixi Festival Zhinü (Vega) and Niulang (Altair) and the Magpie Bridge in the stars

The history and traditions of Qixi Festival / Double Seventh Festival:

The Qixi festival is celebrated over 2000 years. Because of its long history and importance, its added to the National Intangible Cultural Hertitage list by the State Council of China (on May 20 in 2015).

The most prevalent custom is that of girls praying to Zhinü for skillful hands for sewing. Because Zhinü is regarded as a beautiful woman deft at weaving, in the evening of the festival, girls sew some articles to compete with each other and prepare some delicious fruits to worship Zhinü in order to be endowed with the masterly sewing skill. Not only hoping for this skill, they also pray to have a sweet love.

Another custom is children picking bunches of wild flowers and hang them on the horns of oxen in honor of the legendary ox or people making skill fruits: nice, thin fried pastries of different shapes.

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