August 20th marks the beginning of a love filled festival in China called QiXi Festival and it’s essentially the Ancient Chinese version of Valentine’s day. The holiday is based off of a charming legend about a cow herder (named Niulang) and a weaver woman (named Zhinu). One day the two of them meet and fall in love, after a secret marriage and a few kids they get separated by the King of Heaven for eternity (In some versions of the story Zhinu is a fairy from heaven and one of the daughters of the king in others, she’s just a fairy who is a dope weaver). After their separation, Niulang tries to track down his wife, but again is thwarted by the celestial love-haters in heaven. Finally, the powers that be decide to cut the love lorn couple a break and allow Niulang and Zhinu a chance to spend one day each year with each other on the seventh day of the seventh month… which means August 20th this year.
Here are 6 quick facts about the holiday to get you up to speed when you’re chatting with an AsianDate love interest tonight:
1. The earliest recorded reference to the legend of Niulang and Zhinu was in 600…BC
The story has been around for millennia, but the festival only started taking place during the Han Dynasty (a short 2000 years ago).
2. It’s less about love and more about being a good potential husband/wife
Traditionally the QiXi festival was a time for unwed girls to pray to Zhinu to help them find love and give them skills in the “wifely duties” (sewing, cooking, maintaining a home, etc). Men mostly prayed to be a good potential husband and to find a wife.
3. A Bowl of water can tell you how good you sew
One of the ways the women test to see if they’ve been blessed by Zhinu is by dropping a needle into a bowl of water. The myth is that if the needle floats you’re an excellent seamstress. If it sinks, you’re garbage with thread.
4. Spiderwebs are auspicious
During the festival offerings such as face powder, fruit, tea and small handicrafts are offered by women to Zhinu. The belief is that if a spider weaves a web on your offering then the Weaver Girl (Zhinu) is smiling on you and you’re blessed.
5. It’s all Confucius’s fault
Like most things in China this festival has some connection to Confucius. During the Han rule an epic book of poetry compiled by Confucius was used as the moral measuring stick of the empire. It just so happens that the story of Niulang and Zhinu can be found in that volume, we’ve been celebrating the holiday ever since!
6. It’s also known as the Magpie festival
In one version of the story, the loving couple is separated by a celestial river. In order to be able to meet each other a bridge (made of magpies) is sent by the Queen of Heaven to allow the lovers to reunite on the day of the festival.
So now that you have some intellectual ammunition to use, get out there and start impressing AsianDate members with your exhaustive knowledge of the QiXi festival.