On the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, Valentine’s Day is observed. This special festival of love, also known as Qixi Festival, has its roots in Chinese culture and is centered on the love story of Zhinü and Niulang.
The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl: The Legend of the Qixi Festival
Legend has it that the star Vega, which stands in for Zhinü, is one of the daughters of the Jade Emperor. Altair, the brightest star in the constellation of Aquila, is a representation of the mortal Niulang, who Zhinü fell in love with after becoming bored with her routine life in heaven. This defies the laws of heaven.
Soon after learning that Zhinü wed a mortal, Zhinü’s mother, the Goddess of Heaven, immediately dispatched warriors to rescue her. The troops completed their task quickly, sadly separating the couple.
Niulang, Zhinü’s mortal husband, transported their two children to heaven in his quest for his wife. However, the Goddess of Heaven quickly became aware of Niulang’s presence and fashioned the Milky Way itself as a vast river to keep Zhinü and him apart forever.
Niulang and Zhinü could only meet on what became known as the “Magpie Bridge,” which was built on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month by a flock of lovely magpies who were moved by the couple’s love.
The Goddess of Heaven experienced a radical change of heart as she saw this incredibly beautiful moment play out. As a result, she made the decision to always permit the lovers to meet over the Magpie Bridge on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.
How is it Celebrated in China?
Couples can express their love on Chinese Valentine’s Day by giving each other a variety of expensive presents and making romantic gestures. Couples spend time together, have a good meal, exchange gifts, visit the movies, and do other activities similar to any romantic holiday. At this time, Chinese streets are filled with couples looking up at the night sky in search of Vega and Altair during the Qixi Festival.
The season of Qixi is when people create and consume sweet pastries called “qiogu.” This is due to the fact that the letter “qio” sounds extremely similar to “qiáo,” which means “bridge,” and represents the heavenly Magpie Bridge! Since it can also mean “skillful,” ladies can develop their intelligence and skill to become “xīnlíng shǒuqiǎo” by consuming these little candies. Women customarily ask Zhinü for knowledge, a nice spouse, and a happy life.
February 14: Valentine’s Day
Since Valentine’s Day is an import from the West and is observed somewhat differently in China, it is more popular among younger generations. Women frequently give chocolates as gifts to their lovers. One month later, as you’ll read next, men are supposed to repay the favor.
March 14: White Valentine’s Day
Men are encouraged to give their partners white chocolates on this day in exchange for the presents they got on February 14. Additionally, they are expected to purchase gifts that are more expensive than those they received from their significant other the month before.
Although the candy industry in Japan invented White Valentine’s Day in the 1970s, it quickly spread throughout East Asia.
May 20: 520 Festival
Due to the many homophones in Chinese, a new trend of replacing online slang with numbers has evolved, giving rise to the “520 Festival.”
Chinese characters for “520” have the same pronunciation as “I love you”. Consequently, May 20 has evolved into a new Chinese Valentine’s Day! It is still a day when couples give and receive little presents, red envelopes filled with money, and love notes, despite not being as well-known as the Qixi Festival.
A Holiday for the Singles
In China, there is in fact a holiday dedicated to singles. In reality, Singles’ Day has become the greatest global 24-hour shopping event because of its enormous popularity.
The Lantern Festival, sometimes referred to as the “true” traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day, was once connected to love and passion even though it is no longer regarded as a romantic occasion.