Qixi Fes­ti­val: Chi­nese Valen­tine’s Day


Special Focus - - Contents - Zeng Pengling 曾鹏凌

Qixi Festival, Chi­nese Valen­tine’s Day, is a spe­cial day of ro­mance and sweet­ness for those who are in love. It is also the only day of reunion for the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver, a man- fairy cou­ple from a Chi­nese leg­end, who met with each other on the Mag­pie Bridge in the moon­light.

The sev­enth day of the sev­enth lu­nar month of the lu­nar calendar is called Qixi. Be­cause the main ac­tiv­ity on this day is qiqiao ( a rit­ual cer­e­mony to pray for smart­ness and skill­ful­ness), and the par­tic­i­pants in the rite are mostly women, it is also called Qiao­qiao Festival or Girl’s Day. As one of the tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals, Qixi has been passed down for thou­sands of years, which demon­strates Chi­nese peo­ple’s long­ing for love and pas­sion in life.

Qixi Festival dates back to the Han Dy­nasty. In an­cient China, when it was Qixi Festival, women would call on their bo­som friends, show their thread work to each other, and pray for their fam­i­lies to be happy and for good luck.

The ori­gin of this festival comes from the wor­ship of na­ture and the stars. Later this is in­cor­po­rated into the leg­end of the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver, and thus Qixi be­came a festival for love.

In the leg­end, there was an or­phan, named Dong Yong. He lived to­gether with an old ox,

and was thus called Cowherd. One day, the Girl Weaver, one of seven sis­ter fairies, and her sis­ters danced and bathed in a river. The Cowherd met the Girl Weaver un­ex­pect­edly, and the two fell in love and soon be­came hus­band and wife. After mar­riage, the Cowherd did the farm work and the Girl Weaver en­gaged in spin­ning and weav­ing, rais­ing their daugh­ter and son. Un­for­tu­nately, their mar­riage did not ob­tain per­mis­sion from the Fairy Mother Queen, mother of the Girl Weaver. In­stead, the Fairy Mother Queen de­manded the Girl Weaver to end her re­la­tion­ship with the Cowherd and sent guards to bring her back to the Ce­les­tial Land. The in­tel­li­gent old ox of the Cowherd cracked the horns off its head, and they turned into a small fly­ing boat into which the Cowherd could put the chil­dren and catch up with the Girl Weaver.

When the Cowherd was about to meet with his wife, the Fairy Mother Queen took out a golden hair pin which she cast back to make the im­pass­able Milky River in the sky. The Cowherd could not cross the river and could only watch his wife from the riverside, full of ten­der af­fec­tion. Their touch­ing love moved the mag­pies so that thou­sands of mag­pies flew to the Milky River and the Mag­pie Bridge was formed. It was there the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver met again. The Fairy Mother Queen could do noth­ing but al­low the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver to meet on the sev­enth of the sev­enth lu­nar month of ev­ery year. The love story of the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver is one of the Four Love Leg­ends in China.

The Cowherd and the Girl Weaver can only meet once a year, so Qixi sym­bol­izes pure and ev­er­last­ing love of hu­man kind. Through multi- eth­nic ex­changes, the leg­end of the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver has also spread to ar­eas in­hab­ited by eth­nic mi­nori­ties in China, and in­flu­enced the cul­ture in Ja­pan, North Korea, Viet­nam, the Philip­pines, In­done­sia, Malaysia, and other Asian coun­tries.

Dur­ing the Tang and Song Dy­nas­ties, Qixi Festival gained pop­u­lar­ity among the peo­ple. There are nearly two hun­dred classic po­ems on the theme of Qixi. For ex­am­ple, in the Tang Dy­nasty, the great poet Du Mu once wrote, “The steps seem stepped in wa­ter when cold grows the night, she lies watch­ing heart- bro­ken stars shed tears in the sky.” While Qin Guan in Song Dy­nasty chanted, “Their ten­der love flows like a stream; this happy date seems but a dream. Can they bear a sep­a­rate home­ward way? If love be­tween both sides can last for aye, why need they stay to­gether night and day?” Dur­ing the Ming and Qing Dy­nas­ties, op­eras like Mar­riage oftheFairyPrincess and The Palace­ofEter­nalYouth have been pro­duced and played.

In an­cient times, women would pay visit to their friends, and qiqiao, which is an ac­tiv­ity to pray for smart­ness and skill­ful­ness on Qixi Festival. 古代妇女于七夕会访、乞巧

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