Qixi: the Chinese Valentine’s Day!
Qixi festival (also called Double Seventh Festival) is known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day and falls on the 7th day of the 7th Chinese lunar month. This year, it is supposed to occur on Wednesday, August 7th.
What is the history and traditions of Double Seventh Day? And how do Chinese couples celebrate it today? Keep reading to learn more about it!
The story behind Qixi 七夕节 Festival
The celebration of this day originates in the romantic legend of two lovers: Zhinu and Niulang during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).
The legend says that Niulang was a cowboy and had a kind heart, although he was mistreated during his childhood. One day after having been driven out of his home, an old man guided him to a sick ox. Niulang took care of the ox and managed to make him recover. Afterwards and to show his gratitude, the old man arranged a date between Niulang and Zhinu (a fairy from heaven). They fell in love with each other and got married. It sounds like a perfect romance, right? Well, good times didn’t last long as Zhinu’s mother was furious about her daughter’s marriage and eventually sent soldiers to bring Zhinu back to heaven. With the help of the ox, Niulang flew to heaven, but before he could rich his wife, the queen of heaven created a huge river between them. Tears from the two flowed continuously so that even the queen was moved. Hence she allowed them to meet once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.
Customs during this festival:
In the evening of Qixi, young women used to sew articles to compete with each other, they also used to carve exotic flowers, animals, unusual birds, usually on a melon skin.
Other customs involved women worshiping Zhinu and preparing tea, wine, fruits, red dates, hazelnuts, peanuts and melon seeds. Women were usually displaying the qualities of good spouses and the ones who were yet to be married were making wishes to marry a good husband.
As for most of Chinese celebrations, a typical food is prepared. During Qixi, people eat qiaoguo - “skill fruit” - which is a fried, thin pastry made from oil, flour and sugar and which takes a variety of different and elegant shapes. Then strung together, the pastries are hanged to the ceiling or worn as necklaces by the children.
How is China’s Valentine’s Day celebrated today?
These days Qixi is much more of a commercial event. Just like during Western Valentine’s Days, Chinese men often offer flowers, chocolate or other presents to their partner, while the traditional customs slowly faded away. Thus the romantic story has taken deep roots in the hearts of Chinese people, it will probably be always taught!
ASI Movers– as your trusted relocation partner from, to and within China – wishes you a happy Qixi festival!