The most romantic day of the year is celebrated as Valentine's Day on 14th February throughout the world. People present lovely gifts to their partners and loved ones as a symbol of their care and affection for them. Traditionally a Christian celebration, it has largely grown to become a worldwide festival, marked by sharing of feelings and emotions to someone or the other. While the entire world commemorates this romantic occasion on February 14th, China marks this lovely festival on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. Locally, the festival is referred to as Qi Qiao Jie, translated as ‘the Seventh Eve' or ‘Festival of the Double Sevens'. ‘Seven Sister's Festival' or ‘Daughter's Festival' are other popular names for Chinese Valentine's Day. Explore the history of the Chinese version of Valentine's Day and find out how it is celebrated there.
Chinese Valentine's Day History
The tale of the Chinese Valentine's Day takes back to the ancient times about the love story of an orphaned cowherd and the seventh daughter of Emperor of heaven. Stories indicate that orphaned poor boy named Niu Lang lived with his brother and sister-in-law, and earned his living through grazing an old ox on the field. The ox was an immortal that had been punished for his mistakes and sent to earth for repentance. The ox asked the cowherd to visit the river bank, if he wished to get married and change his life entirely. As directed, Niu Lang went to the stream and to his surprise, found seven beautiful daughters of the Emperor who had descended from heaven for a bath.
The beauty of the youngest daughter Zhi Nu enthralled the cowherd, who then stole her fairy clothes without which she could not return back to heaven. He agreed to return back the clothes only if she accepted to marry him. Left with no option, she agreed and the two got married. Eventually, the couple had two children. With his period of penitence coming to an end, the ox asked the cowherd to keep his hide, lest he would need it in times of troubles. On the other hand, the Emperor now started missing his daughter and hence, sent Zhi Nu's grandmother to bring her back to heaven. Unable to stay separated from his wife, Niu Lang wore the ox's hide, carried his two kids and wife's old fairy clothes, and set out to look for his wife in the sky.
But the grandmother could not tolerate the union and hence, created the Milky Way to separate the two lovers. With this, the princess was shifted to the star Vega in the Lyra (Harp) constellation while the cowherd, along with his two children, was sent to the star Altair (Flying One) in the Aquila (Eagle) constellation. And thus, the Vega star came to be known as the Weaving Maid Star and Altair star as the Cowherd Star. However, their separation did not last long as the mother took pity and chose to arrange for their meeting once a year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. The Chinese believe that on this day, the magpies create a bridge with their wings, allowing the two lovers to cross over and unite with one another.
Chinese Valentine's Day Celebrations
Just as China has a different tale to narrate the history behind observing Valentine's Day, celebrations also vary from those seen in the rest of the world. It's not just the exchange of flowers, cards, and chocolates in China that, in turn, largely marks the Valentine's Day traditions across the world. China brings into limelight some specific colorful and spirited rituals. Couples who are yet to get married visit the temple of Matchmaker to pray for their love, happiness, and possibility of their marriage, while those who are still single, offer prayers for finding a suitable match to complete their love life.
The Weaving Maid, or Zhi Nu was very talented and excelled in handicraft skills. Thus, the festival is also called The Daughter's Festival wherein unmarried Chinese girls pray to the Weaving Maid to bless them with the same skills as the princess. To find out whether they are smart or not, the girls place a needle on the surface of the water when the Vega star lands high up in the sky. If the needle floats, it means that the girl is smart and well prepared to find herself a husband. Some provinces of China decorate the horns of ox with flowers as a sign to prevent them from all kinds of disasters. Women wash their tresses, revealing the fresh and shiny locks on the night of Valentine's Day.
Chinese Valentine's Day falls on 7th day of 7th month in Chinese calendar. Know about Valentines Day celebrations in China.