Chinese Double Seventh Festival (Qixi)

Introduction

Originated in Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), the Double Seventh Festival is what Valentine's Day to the western countries. In Chinese, it is called Qixi. As it falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, the festival is named the Double Seventh Festival. It is the most romantic festival among all the traditional Chinese festivals with a legend about the two lovers - cowherd and weaver girl.

Because in the past it is a day especially for young girls to pray for dexterity in needlework and happy marriages, it is also known as the Young Girls' Day or Qiqiao (pray for intelligence and skills) Festival.

Fast Facts about Double Seventh Festival

Chinese Name: 七夕节 Qīxī Jié
Alternative Names: Qixi Festival, Qiqiao Festival, Chinese Valentine's Day, Young Girls' Day
Date: July.7th (Chinese Lunar Calendar)
Festival Type: Traditional Chinese Festival
Countries to Celebrate: Areas where the Chinese people live and East Asian countries
Origin: The worship to the nature in ancient times or the worship to the time and number
Traditions and Customs: Worshiping the weaver girl to pray for wisdom; Lovers celebrate it by sending presents to each other and dining together

Date of Double Seventh Festival

The Double Seventh Festival falls on July 7th on the Chinese lunar calendar. The following chart shows the exact times for the festival from 2018 to 2020:
Year Date of Double Seventh Festival
2018 August 17th
2019 August 7th
2020 August 25th

Legend

The legend about Qixi Festival is Niulang (cowherd, symbolizing Altair) and Zhinv (weaver girl, symbolizing Vega) which has been handed down from Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC - 771 BC). It is said that the Niulang's parents died at an early age. While living with his brother and sister-in-law, he was usually harshly treated by them. His only friend was an old ox. The Zhinv is the seventh daughter of the Goddess. One day, she escaped from the heaven with his sisters and swimmed in the river. The old ox gave a good advice to Niulang about how to take Zhinv as his wife. Following the ox's idea, he took Zhinv's clothes away. The other fairies flew back the heaven by fear only left Zhinv alone. Under the Niulang's pleading, Zhinv agreed to be his wife. They lived happily after marriage and had a son and a daughter. Niulang ploughed and Zhinv weaved every day. Later, the old ox died. Before he died, he told Niulang to took his hide off and put it on when needed after he died. The couple followed his advice and buried him on the hill.

While, after knowing Zhinv had married Niulang, the God and Goddess flew into a rage. They ordered to capture Zhinv back to the heaven. When Niulan came back home and found his wife was taken by the God, he put on the ox's hide and bought his two children to chase after his wife. When he was about to chase her, the Goddess took out her hairpin and scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers. A Milky Way between them was formed blocking them to meet each other since then. Later, moved by their true love, the Goddess allowed them to meet each other once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. On the day, all the magpies in the world would fly up into the heaven to form a bridge for them to meet.

History

The festival can be traced back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC). At that time, people sacrificed the two stars - Altair and Vega at that day. After Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), the day began to relate with the story about the cowherd and weaver girl, and became the girls' festival.

Traditions and Customs

Looking towards the sky to see Altair and Vega stars is a tradition on the Qixi Festival evening. People think they can see Niulang and Zhinv meet over the Milky Way. Also, people eavesdrop on Niulang and Zhinv's conversation under the fruits or melon's shelves.

As Zhinv is clever and handy, girls usually pray to Zhinv for wisdom, skills as well as happy marriages on the day. They usually put delicious food on desks to sacrifice her hoping to fulfill their dreams.

The traditions vary in different areas of China. For example, in southwestern part of China, painting their toenails and washing hair with tree sap are local customs. With these ways, they think they can be more beautiful and find a satisfied husband.

Today, the old customs of Qixi Festival have disappeared most. It has become a festival for lovers. They usually send presents and eat together to show their love that day.

More Traditional Chinese Festivals:

Chinese Spring Festival      Laba Festival      Lantern Festival      Dragon Heads-raising Day      Qingming Festival      Ghost Festival       Dragon Boat Festival         Mid-Autumn Festival      The Double Ninth Festival      Winter Solstice

Chinese Calendar

SuMoTuWeThFrSa
25
十八/18
26
十九/19
27
二十/20
28
廿一/21
29
廿二/22
30
廿三/23
1
廿四/24
2
廿五/25
3
廿六/26
4
廿七/27
5
廿八/28
6
廿九/29
十一月 (Nov)
7
初一/1
8
初二/2
9
初三/3
10
初四/4
11
初五/5
12
初六/6
13
初七/7
14
初八/8
15
初九/9
16
初十/10
17
十一/11
18
十二/12
19
十三/13
20
十四/14
21
十五/15
22
十六/16
23
十七/17
24
十八/18
25
十九/19
26
二十/20
27
廿一/21
28
廿二/22
29
廿三/23
30
廿四/24
31
廿五/25
1
廿六/26
2
廿七/27
3
廿八/28
4
廿九/29
5
三十/30

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