On August 7th this year, people all over China will celebrate, sort of a Chinese version of Valentine’s Day, called Qixi. Like many other Chinese festivals, the date changes from year to year, as it is based on Lunar Calendar and falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. The festival is also called the double seven festival, because of its date. The Chinese name Qixi 七夕 also implies the double seven. 七 (qi) is the Chinese word for seven, 夕 (xi) means night. Another name for this festival is The Daughter’s Festival, related to unmarried girls looking for love on this day.
The Qixi festival originates from an old story about forbidden love between a cowherd and a weaver girl. According to the legend, the boy’s name is cowherd (Niu Lang牛郎), and the girl is named weaver girl (织女 Zhi Nv). They fall deeply in love but were forbidden to see each other, because the girl’s mother banished the lovers from seeing each other and placed them on either side of the Silver River (the Milky Way). However, their love was so strong that all living creatures around them felt sad for them, and wanted for them to be together. So, every year, on the 7th day of the 7th month, magpies would fly together to form a bridge for the two lovers to walk across, to spend one night together. That is the night, we now know as Qixi.
The Qixi Festival is still celebrated in some rural areas of China, but the festival is no longer as popular as it once was. Girls would pray to the weaver girl, hoping to be blessed with her weaving skills and her sweet love. But in recent years, especially the younger Chinese generation has started celebrating Western Valentine’s Day on February 14th. Chinese couples will send each other gifts, go out for dinner or on a date with their crush. Typical gifts include flowers, chocolates, and expressing their love in a manner of different ways.