Qi Xi -七夕节 2012-Chinese Valentine’s Day 2012-Magpie Festival
When: 7th day of the 7th lunar month(August 23rd 2012)
The legend of Qi Xi (Seven Sisters Festival) originated during the Han Dynasty.
Legend has it that a mortal cowherd, Niulang, fell in love with a fairy, Zhinu, who was also a skilled seamstress. The two fell in love at first sight and had a daughter and son. The Jade Emperor, upon learning that a mortal and a fairy had wed, had Zhinu fetched by the empress because her relationship with Niulang was forbidden even though the couple’s relationship was set up as an example in all of China.
Niulang was left in misery, but he was given a chance to chase after his wife and two children. The empress, however, was enraged at his pursuit that she threw a hairpin across the heavens, creating the Milky Way that separated husband and wife.
But the magpies came into rescue. They built a bridge across the Milky Way so the family can be reunited. The Emperor saw this, and moved by what the birds did, allowed Niulang and his family to be reunited once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month.
They can be seen on the night sky as bright stars opposite each other across the Milky Way.
About the Event:
Qi Xi (Seven Sisters Festival) is a celebration of love and devotion celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month (August 23 this year). This festival can be roughly translated as the ancient Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day. While most of this tradition is fading slowly from practice, there are still parts of China that observe this festival.
In Shandong province, young women offer fruits and pastries and pray to Zhinu for wisdom, dexterity and a satisfying married life. In other regions, seven close friends would get together on Qi Xi (Seven Sisters Festival) to make dumplings where they hide a needle, a copper coin and a red date on three of the dumplings. These symbolize desire for excellent needlework skills, a good fortune, and an early marriage.
Still, in some other provinces, the festival is celebrated with weaving and needlework contests. Winning in this competition signifies the best hands and the brightest mind, attributes that were essential in ancient China to be a good wife and mother.
Modern Chinese women, requiring more than just needlework skills to survive in this competitive world, may likely celebrate this event in a temple praying for a good mate. Many may no longer be aware that ancient Chinese concluded the festival with stargazing, looking for two bright stars in the Aquila and Vega constellations. Nonetheless, this is the best time to listen to village elders retell the legend about love and devotion.
China is such a vast territory that Qi Xi is just one of the many introductions to learn the colorful and meaningful Chinese traditions.
A Hearty Wishes to everyone celebrating Qi Xi Festival this year.!