The Qixi Festival is also known by a number of other names, including the Qiqiao Festival, the Double Sevenths Festival, Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Night of the Seven, and the Magpie Festival
Today, Thursday, August 4th, the iconic GoogleDoodle celebrates the Qixi Festival, a traditional holiday observed in areas around Asia based on a romantic legend in Chinese mythology.
This is everything you need to know about the festival – including the history of Niulang and Zhinü and how it’s celebrated.
What is the Qixi Festival?
The Qixi Festival is a traditional holiday celebrated in Taiwan, Singapore and other regions of Asia. It is based on the romantic legend of Niulang, a cowherd, and Zhinu, a weaver girl and daughter of a powerful goddess, from Chinese mythology.
The story goes that Niulang was an orphan who lived with his brother-in-law and sister-in-law. One day, after being mistreated by his family and abused by his sister-in-law, Niulang is thrown out of the house with nothing but an old cow.
With the cow’s help, Niulang finds Zhinü, a beautiful fairy who, bored with her life in heaven, decided to become a weaver girl on earth without permission.
Together, Niulang and Zhinü fell in love and the two married and lived happily ever after, eventually having two children.
However, when Zhinu’s mother found out that her daughter was marrying a mortal, she had her soldiers escort Zhinu back to heaven. Niulang heartbrokenly chased after his love – but the goddess parted them with a river of stars we know as the Milky Way.
The couple’s devastation was felt across the universe, resulting in every magpie on earth flying to heaven and helping to reunite the couple by forming a bridge across the river.
Moved by their love for each other, the queen decided to allow Niulang and Zhinü to meet once a year over a bridge of magpies flying across the River of Stars.
The Qixi Festival is known by various names, including the Qiqiao Festival, the Double Seventh Festival, Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Night of the Seven, and the Magpie Festival.
When is the Qixi Festival?
The Qixi Festival is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunar calendar, hence the name Double Seventh Festival and Night of Sevens.
The lunar calendar is a calendar based on the monthly cycles of the phases of the moon.
This year, the lunar calendar dictates that the Qixi Festival falls on August 4th.
How is the Qixi Festival celebrated?
The Qixi Festival is celebrated in a variety of ways, with the more traditional practices mainly found in rural areas.
Showing skills was the most popular way for women to celebrate the festival on Qixi Eve. Traditionally, women would quickly thread a needle to show off their skill, but other activities include things like carving exotic flowers, animals, and birds, usually on melon skin.
Zhinü is also worshiped during the festival, with many offering offerings such as tea, wine, fruits and nuts to the weaver fairy.
Children also honored the cow, who helped the couple, picking wild flowers and hanging them on the horns of cows and oxen.
Also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day, modern celebrations also include things like giving flowers, chocolates, and other gifts to your significant other with the festival.