Valentine’s Day is traditionally a western holiday, but as in the case with many other holidays there is a somewhat comparable holiday in China called the Qixi Festival or 七夕节 “The Night of Sevens,” or “The Double Seventh Festival.”” The Qixi Festival is based on a folklore tale about a couple that was separated and only allowed to reunite on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Lunar Calendar each year. In 2015, this celebration falls on August 20th.
As the story goes, there was a cowherder who was tending a cow. The cow was really a god who was being punished. One day, the cow led the cow herder to a lake where the fairies regularly bathed. The cow herder immediately fell in love with one of the fairies. The fairy, who was known for her weaving and sewing skills, fell back in love with the cowherder. The two soon married and had a son and a daughter, living happily on Earth.
When the Jade Emperor found out that a fairy and a mortal had married, he sent the empress to bring the fairy back. When the cowherder discovered his wife was gone, the cow came to his aid and told him to make his hide into leather boots so that he could go after her. The cowherder did and after putting his children into two baskets on a pole over his shoulder, he went after his wife. When the empress realized that the cow herder was following them, she took her hairpin and slashed the sky creating the Milky Way and forever separating the lovers….or so she thought. Nearby magpies took pity on the lovers and formed a bridge over the Milky Way so that the couple could reunite. When the emperor found out about the bridge, he allowed it to happen once a year, on the 7th night of the 7th moon.
In ancient Chinese tradition, single girls would use the ‘Night of Sevens’ as a time to show off their sewing skills and pray for a good marriage. They would offer sacrifices to the gods in hopes that they would be blessed in their sewing skills and marriages. The Qixi Festival can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 22). The moral of the story is that love prevails– whether celebrated on Valentine’s Day, or on the 7th day of a 7th month of the Lunar Calendar.
Come and celebrate love at Yu’s Garden Chinese Restaurant during the Double Seven Festivities.