Chinese Valentines Day / Double Seventh Day

09 August 2016 by Stephanie Henwood

Tuesday, August 9th 2016 marks the date of The Qixi Festival.

This Chinese festival celebrates the annual meeting of the cowherd and weaver girl in Chinese mythology. It falls on the seventh day of the 7th month on the Chinese lunar calendar and is now more commonly known as ‘Chinese Valentines day, or Double Seventh Festival (On double Seventh day).

The festival originated from the tale of The Weaver Girl and Cowheard, a romantic legend of two lovers, Zhinü (the Weaver Maid) and Niulang (the cowherd).

The Qixi festival is not just celebrated by the Chinese! It has also inspired; Tanabata festival in JapanChilseok festival in Korea, and Thất Tịch festival in Vietnam.

So what’s this Love Story all about?

Well, Zhinu and Niulangs’ love was not allowed, it was against their stars (Vega Star and Altair Star) and heavenly rules to participate in romantic relations. So, they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River (Milky Way in Chinese).

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 one day only. This day, of the lovers being re-united, is the day that we celebrate.

There are, however, many variations of the story. See if you can find any of the others.  

The story of Zhinu and Niulang is said to be one of the most famous folklore of love, others include:

The Dragon Princess

This is a famous magical fable in China. This mythological love story tells us about a princess who is mistreated by her husband and saved by a kind stranger and her father, the dragon king. The princess is reunited with her family and the kind stranger is given the ultimate reward for his bravery and good morals.

Snowflake Books have published this romantic, picture-story book as part of their Folklore series.  It is available in Simplified English or Traditional and also comes in both soft and hard back copies.  Why not celebrate your Chinese Valentines Day by treating your loved one to a hard back copy of The Dragon Princess as a unique gift? Our hard-backs make great presents and with their beautifully creative illustrations and sure to provide for a magical reading experience.

If you are into astronomy, you may find the romantic tale of The Weaver Girl and Cowheard interesting in relation to their Stars:

The star Vega (Weaving Maid) is the 5th brightest star in the sky. Therefore, it's very easy to find in the summer night. The size of Vega is 16 times bigger than the Sun. The brightness of Vega is 25 times brighter than the Sun.

The star Altair (Cowherd) is the 11th brightest star in the sky. Therefore, it's not difficult to find in the summer night. The size of Altair is 4 times bigger than the Sun. The brightness of Altair is 11 times brighter than the Sun.

The distance between Star Vega and Star Altair is 16 light years.  In the story, there was a magpies bridge for Weaving Maid and Cowherd to meet.  What length do you think the bridge was?

On the Chinese Valentines Day, happy couples in China like to go to the temple of Matchmaker and pray for their love and possible marriage. Those whom are single like to do the same but to ask for luck in love.

In some Chinese provinces, people believe that decorating an Ox’s horn with the flowers on the day enables to prevent from the disaster.

On the night of Valentine's Day, women wash their hair to give it a fresh and shiny outlook. Children wash their face in the next morning of the Valentine's Day using the overnight water in their backyards to have a much more naturally beautiful appearance. If you are planning on celebrating this evening, why not have the girls round for a pamper night?  You will be joining many traditional Chinese in their beautifying rituals!

Younger girls throw the five-color ropes, made at Chinese Dragon Boat festival, on the roof for magpies. Magpies will carry ropes to build the bridge. Perhaps leave this one to your imagination, unless of course you are lucky enough to be visiting China on the day!

The seventh day of the seventh lunar month happens to be the birthday of the Weaver Girl. It was said that the Weaver Girl had special skills for weaving beautiful clothes that could be worn in heaven, so she was called the Goddess of Weaving. For hundreds of years, people prayed on the Double Seventh Festival to be given good skills. On this day women also prayed to the Weaver Girl for beauty. Girls who prayed to have clever fingers, like the Weaver Girl, competed to see how quickly they could thread colourful strings into embroidery needles. So the Double Seventh Festival was also called ‘Qi-Qiao Festival’ or the ‘festival for people to pray for skills’. Today, however, ready-made clothes are so popular that the tradition of asking for sewing skills has been lost. Now most families still worship the goddess on this day to hold coming-of-age ceremonies for children at the age of 16 particularly in Taiwan.

The custom of praying for skills and celebrating children’s coming of age on that day shows that people still remember the Weaver Girl and her story.