Falling on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, the Qi Xi festival – also known as the Double Seventh Festival – is in China what Valentine’s Day is to western countries. Because of the legend behind the festival, it is often associated with the meaning of great romance.
The legend of Qi Xi
According to the story, a young cow shepherd named Niu Lang was driven out of his home by his sister-in-law. So he lived by himself herding cattle and farming. But because he was a honest and kind-hearted boy, he was visited by a fairy from heaven named Zhi Nu. She fell in love with the cow shepherd and secretly settled on earth to marry the boy. The cow shepherd continued to farm, the fairy wove at home.
They lived a happy life and gave birth to a boy and a girl. However, the God of Heaven found out that Zhi Nu was living on earth and ordered the Queen Mother of the Western Heavens to bring the fairy back.
With the help of his cattle, the cow shepherd flew to heaven along with his two children to chase the fairy. Just moments before he could reach Zhi Nu, the Queen Mother of the Western Heavens created a huge river between them.
Tears from the two lovers flowed continuously that even the Queen Mother was moved. As a result, she allowed the two to meet only on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month very year.
The Double Seventh Festival
On the day of Qi Xi, girls pray to Zhi Nu for skillful hands for sewing. The fairy was regarded as a beautiful woman deft at weaving. In the evening, girls sew articles to compete with each other and prepare delicious fruits to worship Zhi Nu. They also pray to find love.
In the rural regions, people usually see the meeting of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu as two stars in the sky. The elderly tell the young about this love legend during this moment.
In cities nowadays, the Western Valentin’s Day is more favored than the Double Seventh Festival. They often spend The Double Seventh Festival as it were Valentine’s Day. Even though giving Valentine’s Day presents, chocolate and flowers are more popular today, the legend of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu is still passed down from generation to generation.