Qixi Festival which is also known as the Double Seventh Festival, or Chinese Valentine's Day is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar calendar month in the traditional Chinese calendar. The name Qixijie in Chinese, Qi means 'seven(th)', Xi means 'sunset(s)' and Jie means 'festival', which means the 'Seventh Sunset Festival'.
In 2023, Qixi Festival falls on 22 August (Tuesday).
Qixi Festival is celebrated to commemorate the legendary romantic tale of two star-crossed lovers, Zhinu and Niulang from the Han dynasty. Zhinu a weaver girl and daughter of the Heavenly Queen Mother and Jade Emperor, and Niulang, a humble cowherd.
Zhinu and Niulang met and fell in love at first sight which broke the law of Heaven and upset Zhinu's parents. Zhinu's mother exiled Niulang down to the Earth and he become a cowherd on Earth who lost his parents at a young age. On the other hand, Zhinu was punished by her Mother and forced to weave colourful clouds all day long. She suffered from the heartache of missing Niulang every day.
Zhinu went down to Earth one day and met Niulang again. They got married and lived on Earth and gave birth to two loving children. Zhinu's Mother was furious when she found out about their marriage and sent heaven troops to bring Zhinu back to heaven.
Zhinu's Mother removed her golden hairpin and created a river of stars, also known as the Milky Way, separating Zhinu and Niulang so they can never meet again. Their deep love touched the hearts of a flock of magpies. The magpies then flew up to heaven and formed a bridge across the Milky Way, allowing Niulang and Zhinu to reunite. The Queen Mother was also touched by their enduring love and allowed Niulang and Zhinu to reunite once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.
How is Qixi Festival celebrated?
Traditionally, women would dress up in Hanfu – traditional Chinese clothing that is a long robe with flowy sleeves and a belt at the waist and prepare a table of offerings including tea, wine, flowers, and various fruits to worship Zhinu for wisdom and to grant their wishes. Single women would pray to the celestial couple in hopes to find a good husband, and newly married women would wish to bear a baby. In the evening, the women will gather around and display their needle threading skills under the moonlight.
Celebrating Qixi Festival in modern days
The customs of the Qixi Festival are fading with celebrations similar to the western Valentine's Day. In modern days, couples celebrate the Qixi Festival with gifts such as rose bouquets, rose bears, and or jewellery gifts. Couples also prefer to go on romantic dates and intimate dinners.
Rich with history and heritage, the festival is a valuable opportunity to reconnect with our cultural roots and also a day to spend with your partner to express how much they mean to you.