Qixi Festival, also known as the Girl’s Festival, is a traditional Chinese folk festival. With the development of history, Qixi has been endowed with the beautiful love legends of "the Cowherd and the Weaver Maid", which has become a festival of love, and thus is considered as the most romantic traditional festival in China. In contemporary times, it also has the cultural meaning of "Chinese Valentine's Day".
Origin of Chinese Valentine's Day
Qixi Festival is a day to commemorate Zhinv who is good at weaving. Folk women pray to Zhinv not only for wisdom and skills, but also for a happy marriage. The activities vary from place to place. The most famous one is "threading a needle". That is to say, the fastest person can get intelligence and skills. Other activities include the worship of Zhinv and the celebration of cows. Gradually, Qixi Festival spread to some southeast Asian countries and Korea and Japan.
Niulang was a herd boy without parents, but he had a kind heart. Living with his brother and sister-in-law, he was abused and wasdriven out of his house. All he had was an old sick cow. After Niulang’s careful care, the cow recovered. To express his gratitude to the Niulang, the cow helped him get acquainted with the fairy weaver—Zhinv (granddaughter of the god in heaven). They fell in love and got married. Niulang worked in the field and Zhinv wove at home. They lived happily together and magically got a boy and a girl. However, the good times did not last long, because Zhinv’s deeds were known by the king of heaven, who brought her back to heaven. With the help of the cow, Niulang and his two children flew to heaven. They chased their wife and mother. At the moment, the queen of heaven created a big river between them. Niulang couldn’t stop crying, and even the queen was moved. Therefore, she allowed them to meet on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month once a year. Therefore, the day when the Niulang and Zhinv met is now the Qixi Festival.
Time of the Chinese Valentine's Day
Chinese Valentine's Day falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. On May 20, 2006, Qixi Festival was included in the National Intangible Cultural Heritage List by the State Council.
Celebrations of Chinese Valentine's Day
Girls, rich or poor, will dress up, bring four-leaf paper, colored paper, sesame, rice and other crops to make handicrafts and put them in front of the incense burner, to express their blessings to Zhinv.
In some parts of Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangdong Provinces, young girls often wash their hair with a mixture of tree dew and water. It is said that it can help them stay young and beautiful and will have a good husband. They also dye their nails with flowers. It's fun and helps kids who have good luck in the future.
There are many skill competitions on Qixi Festival. The most popular one is to see which girl could wear seven pins on one thread the fastest. The hardest one is to put the needle into a bowl of water and see whose needle can float on the water. Whoever wins will get dexterous embroidery skills.