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What is Chinese Valentine’s Day, and How Is It Celebrated?

One of the best things about traveling is learning more about the different cultures in various cities and countries. China, in particular, is a country that is rich in culture and history, and the people there honor so many celebrations that are undeniably distinctive and remarkable. 

Out of all the celebrations that Chinese people commemorate, one that stands out from the rest is Chinese Valentine’s Day. 

What Is Chinese Valentine’s Day? 

Essentially speaking, Chinese Valentine’s Day is similar to the Valentine’s Day celebration that we all know. The only difference is that Chinese Valentine’s Day is deeply rooted in Chinese folklore, as this celebration honors the romantic legend of Zhinü and Niulang. 

To the Chinese people, Chinese Valentine’s Day is more commonly known as the Qixi Festival, which literally translates to “Evening of Sevens Festival.” This is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, meaning that, on the Gregorian calendar, the day would fall sometime in August. 

The Legend of Zhinü and Niulang

As mentioned earlier, Chinese Valentine’s Day has its roots in a romantic legend from Chinese folklore. In this legend, Zhinü, the daughter of the Goddess of Heaven, came down to the Earth because she was bored with her life. Falling for a mortal is against heaven’s rules, but all the same, Zhinü met Niulang and fell in love with him. Eventually, the two of them got married. 

The Goddess of Heaven soon found out that her daughter married a mortal, and so, she sent soldiers to get her back. As a result, Zhinü and Niulang were forcibly separated from each other. 

At first, Niulang refused to give up, and he decided to search for his wife while carrying their two children. But Zhinü’s mother created a wide river — the Milky Way Galaxy itself — so that Zhinü and Niulang would be separated from each other forever. 

Fortunately, all was not lost for the star-crossed lovers. A flock of magpies was moved by their love, and so, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, the magpies came together to form a bridge so that Zhinü and Niulang could reunite with each other. 

The Goddess of Heaven witnessed the couple’s reunion, and realizing that Zhinü and Niulang’s love must have been greater than she thought, she decided to let the two meet on the Magpie Bridge once a year — on the seventh day of the seventh month. 

How Do People Celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day?

Chinese Valentine’s Day is meant to be a day for couples to express their love for each other, and Chinese people have adopted the global Valentine’s Day traditions for their own. In other words, during Chinese Valentine’s Day, people would send flowers to their lovers, exchange gifts, go on fancy dates, and engage in many other romantic activities.

Star-gazing is a popular activity during Chinese Valentine’s Day as well. This is because the stars Vega and Altair are said to be the celestial forms of Zhinü and Niulang, respectively. As a result, couples love to gaze into the night sky and look for Vega and Altair together. 

Aside from expressing their love by engaging in several romantic traditions, Chinese Valentine’s Day is also the perfect time to bake and eat qiǎoguǒ, which is a type of sweet pastry. Qiǎoguǒ is popular during this special day mainly because “qiǎ” sounds similar to “qiáo,” which means “bridge.” As a result, for Chinese people, qiǎoguǒ symbolizes the celestial Magpie Bridge. 

Furthermore, women also pray to Zhinü during the Qixi Festival. They pray to Zhinü so that they too would have wisdom, find a good husband, and live a happy life. 

Conclusion

Chinese Valentine’s Day, widely known as the Qixi Festival, is not an official holiday in China, but the celebration has over 2,000 years of history. It has its roots in a famous legend about two star-crossed lovers, and the romantic nature of the story has captivated everyone who has heard of it. 

Because of this, people throughout China are incredibly fond of the Qixi Festival. And for more than 2,000 years now, they have celebrated this occasion every lunar year, specifically during the seventh day of the seventh month. 

Chinese Valentine’s Day is a day full of love, joy, and devotion. It is a day when couples honor their relationship, and it is also the time when unattached people pray to find their very own great love. All the festivities are underscored by romantic activities and delicious pastries. 

In other words, Chinese Valentine’s Day is always a memorable occasion, one that people will treasure in their hearts for a long time. As a result, this special day will always be one of the highlights of Chinese culture. 

Huynh Nguyen

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