Chinese Valentine’s Day
Traditions & Gift Ideas
The Double Seven Festival, also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day (Qixi), falls on August 7th this year. Japan, Korea, and Vietnam has also celebrated this day for generations.
The origin of the festival was a sad love story between a cowherd, Niu Lang (a mortal), and a weaver girl, Zhi Nu (the seventh and youngest daughter of the Lord of Heaven), who were later turned into two stars: Altair and Vega. It was a forbidden love and the couple were separated after Zhi Nu’s mother, the Goddess, found out about their marriage. That’s why you see Altair and Vega on opposite sides of the sky. With the Goddess’ permission, because she was moved by their true love, every year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, magpies would fly together to form a bridge over the Milky Way to reunite the couple.
Many traditions have been used to commemorate the Double Seven Festival since ancient times. Girls would compete to thread needles, and the one who finished first would be awarded with wisdom and talent. Villagers made offerings to Heaven to pray for good health and happiness. Scholars would read poems and play games under the moonlight. Nowadays, couples exchange gifts (e.g., chocolates, flowers; no umbrella because is symbolizes breaking up, based on the pronunciation of it in Chinese, and no shoes because it implies packing off your love), make special foods to mark the occasion, and go out for a romantic dinner or to watch a movie.
Don’t forget to check the weather report in advance. Legend has it that it always rains on the day of the Qixi Festival because Niu Lang and Zhi Nu are crying during their annual reunion. However you choose to celebrate this festival, great affection is expressed between loved ones.
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