Qixi Festival: The History and Activity of Chinese Valentine's Day

What is Qixi Festival?

The seventh day of the seventh lunar month is Qixi Festival, or Double Seven Festival, which is a traditional folk festival in China, widely regarded as China's Valentine's Day.

There is no public holiday like the Chinese New Year and Dragon Boat Festival. On May 20, 2006, Qixi was selected on the first list of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage List by the Chinese State Council.

Qixi Festival is the most romantic traditional festival in China. And it is also known as the magpie festival sometimes, but what do these birds have to do with Valentine's? It goes back to the ancient Chinese legend -- the folk tale of the Cowherd (Niulang) and the Weaver Girl (Zhinv).

The Legend Behind Chinese Valentine's Day (Qixi Festival)

The legend of the Niulang and Zhinv originated from the worship of matural celestial phenomena. Ancient people have been exploring the mysteries of the universe since early times. But at that time, Qixi was only a festival dedicated to Altair and Vega. It was not until the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) that the Qixi festival was associated with the story of the Niulang who represents Altair and Zhinv, the Vega.

According to the legend, the youngest daughter of the jade emperor, the waver girl (Zhinv), was a fairy who weaved rosy clouds in the sky. She became tired of the boring immortal life and decided to descend to the modern world, she met and fell in love with a cowherd.

However, the jade emperor strongly objected to the couple's union and forcibly separated them by the milky way. With the help of magpies, every year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, they could meet each other on the Magpie Bridge in the sky.

The beautiful love legend has made the Qixi festival symbolizing love. Thus, it is considered the most romantic Chinese traditional festival.

The Traditional Custom of Qixi Festival

More than 2000 years ago, Qixi also known as "the Begging Festival", the girls' festival. On that day, what did they do? In ancient china, women would dress up in costumes, visit their close friends and worship the weaver girl (Zhinv) on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. Praying they could become as clever as a weaver girl and find their faithful lover.

There were also many different forms of competition to show their skills (demonstrating dexterity). The most popular and oldest one was threading needles with seven holes. The one who finished the threading fastest would win. The most common food was Qiaoguo, which is a kind of fried thin pastry of different shapes.

In traditional Chinese marriage, women who pray for dexterity often devote all their energies to family life. However, times have changed, as has the role of women, a more diversified social role enables women in China to pursue their love courageously, and no longer be bound to domestic life like the weaver girl.

Nowadays, Qixi Festival is more of a couple's festival. The traditional custom of this festival didn't include a couple's date activity. Thus, people usually celebrate it by giving flowers, chocolates, and other gifts to their sweethearts. Some traditional customs have gradually disappeared, and people began to pay more attention to this festival and traditional customs.

How to Celebrate Qixi Festival -- The Valentine's Day in China Nowadays?

Qixi Festival is Chinese Valentine's Day in China now. The tragedy of the cowherd and the weaver girl could not happen in modern China. With the development of high-speed railways, lovebirds no longer have any difficulty reuniting, even if there are many miles apart.

Beijing and Shanghai, the two largest cities in China are one thousand two hundred kilometers away from each other, but right on the high speed rail, only takes 4 hours, and there are more than 100 high-speed trains traveling between the two cities every day.

The convenience and efficiency of modern travel have shortened the "galactic" distance between couples. On Qixi Festival, more and more young people are going on dates and exchanging gifts to express their affection. This in turn gave rise to a unique Qixi economy.

Long queues are also often formed at the gate of the Civil Affairs Bureau, where couples rush to register for marriage when love is in the air. This is because Qixi carries with it a symbolic meaning: choose your own love and remain faithful for life.