Qixi means “The Night of Sevens” in Chinese characters. Chinese Qixi festival celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar, we have an ancient story about this festival.By playing a national song of Erhu and singing a Huangmei Opera, we began our culture talk. The story is about the love between a young cowherd and weaving maid ( Niú láng and Zhīnǚ).As the legend goes, once there was a cowherd, Niúláng, who lived with his elder brother and sister-in-law. But she disliked and abused him. The young cowherd was forced to leave home with an old ox for a company. He didn’t realize that the old ox was the Taurus until several years later. One day, the ox led Niúláng to a lake where fairies went swimming on earth. Zhīnǚ was the most beautiful one among them and a skilled weaver. The two had a crush on each other. The ox encouraged him to dare to love or stay alone in the rest of life. Soon they got married. They started the farm life bringing up a daughter and a son. Within the ox’s help, they lived a very happy life which was regarded as an example for thousands of years in China. However, the Jade Emperor couldn’t endure the marriage between a mortal and a fairy. He was furious to order the Empress to bring Zhīnǚ back. As a normal person, what could he do was afraid, anxious and sorrow. The old ox told him to turn his hide from Taurus into a flying cloak.The Magic cloak helped Niúláng to catch up with the Empress. But the Empress created a river which is called the Milky Way with her hairpin. The true love between Niúláng and Zhīnǚ finally melted the Empress’ heart, they were allowed to meet once a year. The day fell on the seventh night of the seventh month which is called Qīxī in Chinese. In that evening, all are not lost as magpies, will form a bridge across the Milky Way. The family reunites on the magpie bridge.The Magic cloak helped Niúláng to catch up with the Empress. But the Empress created a river which is called the Milky Way with her hairpin. The true love between Niúláng and Zhīnǚ finally melted the Empress’ heart, they were allowed to meet once a year. The day fell on the seventh night of the seventh month which is called Qīxī in Chinese. In that evening, all are not lost as magpies, will form a bridge across the Milky Way. The family reunites on the magpie bridge.This is how Qīxī festival came to be. All people follow this pattern of love; they would look up at the sky and wish they could have this love. Young girls hope they would be skilled weavers, boys wish they could find their beloved ones.In the day-Qīxī festival, girls will thread several needles at once and throw a needle into a bowl full of water. If the needle floats on top of the water instead of sinking, it proves the girls are skilled embroiderers.We had been told stories when were young. If it rains heavily at night, some will tell you that is because Zhīnǚ, is crying on the day she met her husband Niúláng on the Milky Way.The love story of Niúláng and Zhīnǚ, and the Qīxī Festival have been handed down for generations. Yet these ancient traditions and customs are slowly dying out.Even Qīxī is nowadays referred to as the “Chinese Valentine’s Day.” More and more young Chinese people begin to celebrate this day in a very similar way as those in western countries.
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