Happy Chinese Valentine’s Day!
Heads up, lovers: August 4th is actually this year’s date for the Qixi Festival — China’s most popular romantic holiday! Also known as the Double Seventh Festival since the event falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, Qixi traces its origins to the tale of The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl.
According to legend, Niulang the cowherd and Zhinü the weaver girl were two sweethearts who were banished by the gods to opposite sides of the heavenly river. Although they spend most of their time apart, they are permitted to meet once a year during the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on a bridge formed by a flock of magpies under the sky.
In celebration of this classic love, we’ve gathered some of the most traditional and romantic dishes to satisfy both your heart’s and stomach’s desires. Check them out below:
Qiaoguo (巧果) actually translates to “skill fruit,” referencing the crafting skills of Zhinü the Weaver Girl. Composed of oil, flour, and sugar, this sweet treat is actually best known for its wonderfully intricate shapes and patterns, making it a cute “Valentine” gift to give!
Qiaoguo is probably a bit hard to find here in the Philippines, but baking them can be a fun and romantic activity on its own! Here’s a recipe for you to try out.
Dumplings are generally considered to be an auspicious dish in Chinese culture; but during the Qixi Festival, they take on a whole new level of luck! According to tradition, Qixi dumplings are stuffed with coins, red dates, and longans, with each item representing a different blessing. Girls who eat dumplings with coins, for example, would be blessed with literary talent. On a more romantic note, those who eat red date dumplings and longan dumplings are respectively expected to fall in love and enjoy happy marriages.
Since Niulang and Zhinü only get to see each other once a year, the time that they spend together is especially important. However, if the rooster doesn’t call out to begin the new day, does the time between the cowherd and the weaver girl truly end? This is why chicken is considered to be a romantic dish. Tradition says that if the rooster is killed during Qixi, Niulang and Zhinü will never have to part again.
Jiang Mi Tiao
Jiang mi tiao (江米条) are glutinous rice sticks that are deep-fried and sprinkled with sugar. Originating in Nanjing, these trendy snacks were especially popular in the 80s and 90s. But now, they are often used to express wishes of sweet love during Qixi.
Red Bean Desserts
A Tang dynasty poet named Wei Wang once proclaimed red beans to be the beans of lovesickness, making them a common ingredient to eat during the Qixi Festival. One popular red bean dessert that you can eat for Qixi is shuangpi nai (双皮奶), otherwise known as double milk skin pudding. Sweet and creamy, this Cantonese panna cotta-like dessert is easy to make and easy to share, making it the perfect treat for you and your partner to indulge in your date night with!