Celebrating Qixi Festival
While Chap Goh Mei is also known as a day of courtship in the Chinese calendar, did you know there was another day of the year known as Chinese Valentine’s Day, called the Qixi Festival?
Marking the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, this year, Qixi (or Qiqiao) falls on Saturday, 14th August 2021. Originally deriving from the worship of astrology, the festival then grew in popularity as a legendary romantic Chinese folk tale became the anchoring story behind this festival.
If you’ve never heard of this festival or you don’t know the backstory behind it, here are some cool facts about this annual celebration of romance in Chinese culture:
It’s based on a love story
This festival has many names – the Double Seventh Festival, the Magpie Festival – and one of its names is The Festival of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl. And while there are a few versions of the legend, the love connection between the lovers remains the same.
The story begins with Niulang, an orphan and cowherd, who was kicked out of his home, with only his old cow as his company. One day, his cow tells him of a weaver fairy from heaven named Zhinü, who will stay with him if she doesn’t go back to heaven before morning. Upon meeting, Niulang and Zhinü fell in love and got married.
However, the Emperor of Heaven was furious about their union, and sent for Zhinü to be brought back to heaven. A heartbroken Niulang attempted to go after his love, but was blocked by the Goddess known as the Queen Mother of the West. The magpie however, moved by Niulang’s love, built a bridge of magpies over the milky way to allow the lovers to meet.
Finally, the Emperor of Heaven was also moved by the sight, and allowed Niulang and Zhinü to meet once a year on the magpie bridge, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month – thus becoming the day we now know as Qixi.
The festival is a cultural phenomenon
Inspiring multiple forms of art, Qixi has been celebrated since China’s Han dynasty (some 2,200 years ago), with the earliest found reference to the legend found in a poem that dates back over 2,600 years.
Since then, countless amounts of literature and artworks have been created surrounding the myth of the Cowherd and the Weaver, with references even spanning beyond Chinese culture.
There are many ways to recognise and celebrate this festival
Traditions have grown from how this festival was celebrated during the Han dynasty. Today, there are various ways to partake in the festivities of Qixi, including:
- Dressing up in a traditional Hanfu, a traditional Chinese long, flowy dress with floral motifs.
- Gazing up to the sky, in search of the magpie bridge and in support of the celestial couple.
- Eating Qiao food or more specifically, Qiaoguo, a fried, sweet and fragrant pastry made mainly of oil, flour, and sugar or honey, and sometimes with added ingredients such as peanuts and sesame.
- Besides celebrating the seventh day of the seventh month, Qixi is also the “birthday of the seventh elder sister” in traditional significance. It is believed that women can gather feminine items or gifts (such as toiletries) in reverence of the seven maidens.
- Single women can pray to the celestial couple to be granted a noble husband, while newly married women can wish to be granted a child.
- And if you want to go full traditional, girls can put their domestic skills to the test, for example with a nightly or low-light needle-threading competition.
Celebrate Qixi Festival with GemSpot!
Check out the various romantic offerings on our app including cakes, bouquets and even wine, and have them delivered to the one you believe to be your celestial soulmate!
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