This coming Thursday (Aug 20th) is the Qixi Festival, also known as the Qiqiao Festival, is the Chinese Valentine’s day that celebrates the annual meeting of the cowherd — Niulang, and Zhi Nu — the weaver girl in Chinese mythology. It falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
Niu Lang was a cowboy whose parents died young, so he had to live with his brother and sister-in-law and he was maltreated. One day, after having been driven out of his home, an old man guided him to sick cattle. With great care from Niu Lang, the cattle recovered. In order to show gratitude to Niu Lang, the cow helped him get acquainted with Zhi Nu – a fairy from heaven. They fell in love with each other and got married. A year had passed while they lived happily with two newborn children.
However, good times didn’t last long because Zhi Nu’s deeds were known by the Queen of Heaven who took her back to heaven. With the cow’s help, Niu Lang flew to heaven to chase his wife. It was just at that moment before he could reach Zhi Nu that the Queen of the Heaven scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two forever, thus forming the Milky Way between Altair and Vega. But once a year all the magpies in the world would take pity on them and fly up into heaven to form a bridge (“the bridge of magpies”, Que Qiao) so the lovers may be together for a single night, which is the seventh night of the seventh month.
- Pleading for Skills:
Because Zhi Nu is considered to be a beautiful woman good at weaving, young girls pray to Zhi Nu for skilful hands for sewing on this day. Not only hoping for this skill, they also pray to have a sweet love.
- Carve fruits:
Young women often carve fruits into exotic flowers, animals or unusual birds.
- Eating “skilfully-made snacks”:
On the day of Qixi, people usually eat skillfully-made snacks (巧果 qiǎo guǒ): fried, thin pastries of different shapes, made from oil, flour, sugar, and honey.
Today’s Qixi Festival:
Nowadays young people celebrate this festival as the Western Valentine’s day. They would go on a date and give each other flowers or chocolate. Who are you celebrating your Valentine’s day with this year?