Qixi Festival the Double Seventh — Women's Holiday and the Love Legend of Vega

What and when is the Qixi Festival?

 

Qixi, also named Qiqiao Festival or Double Seventh Festival, is a traditional festival for women that is celebrated on the 7th of July of Traditional Chinese Calendar.

 

When and How is the Qixi Festival originated?

 

In ancient China, Vega represents the goddess that weaved all clouds in the sky and is in charge of the textile industry on earth. 

Since Han Dynasty (202 BC — 220 AD), women worship the Vega Goddess (named Qi Jie, Qi Niang, or Zhi Nv) to pray for excellent weaving skills and happy marriage had been documented.

 

What is the legend of the Qixi Festival?

 

In the late Han Dynasty, a love story of Vega (Zhi Nv) and Altair (Niu Lang) has been formed and became one of the most popular folk legends in Chinese culture. 

Zhi Nv also named the weaver girl, is the granddaughter of Emperor of Heaven (Jade Emperor or Yudi). 

One day, she secretly paid a visit to earth out of curiosity and fell in love with a young man named Niu Lang. Soon, they got married, had kids, worked hard, and lived a happy life together. 

However, Queen of Heaven (Wang Mu) found out this unapproved marriage and took Zhi Nv back to heaven. 

Niu Lang then took their children and flew to the sky, under the help of his magic cattle. 

 

The Queen of Heave then pulled out her hairpin and drew on the Milky Way, which soon became a deep river with roaring waves that separated this couple apart permanently.  

Niu Lang, Zhi Nv, and their kids didn't want to give up and kept scooping water out of the Milky Way, day and night. 

They are different, a deity and a human, and their marriage is untraditional. However, their love is pure and sincere and impressed everyone in heaven. 

A long time later, Queen of Heaven was finally moved by their love and allowed them to meet on the 7th of July of the Chinese Traditional Calendar once a year. 

But the Milky Way is already there, hence, tens of thousands of magpies would form a bridge on that day, for this beloved couple to reunite. 

Niu Lang and Zhi Nv's meeting on Qixi Festival, by Snow Fish

 

Is the Qixi Festival the Chinese Valentine's Day?

 

Love of Vega (Zhi Nv) and Altair (Niu Lang) is beautiful, sincere, and eternal. Therefore, their reunite date, the Qixi Festival, has been celebrated as Chinese Valentine's Day in recent decades. 

 

According to history and customs, the real Chinese Valentine's Day should be the Lantern Festival on the 15th of January of Chinese Calendar, the first full moon date of the new year. 

 

But celebrating great love of Vega (Zhi Nv) and Altair (Niu Lang) is also reasonable. Their love is not only about passion, romance, but also tells loyalty, persistence, unstoppable, and eternality. 

 

For couples in love, every day meaningful is their Valentine's Day.

How is the Qixi Festival celebrated?

 

  • Worship Vega and Altair using seasonal fruits, vegetables, and exquisite handicrafts, and pray for excellent weaving skills.

The original means to pray for textile skills was to use five color threads to go through seven needles (later nine needles), at night of Qixi under the moon.

 

Women threading needles under the moon of Qixi Festival, Part of Painting "Qiqiao on Han Palace" by an Artist of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644) — National Museum of China

  • Put Xi Zhu, a type of very small spider that represents good luck, in a box at night of Qixi. When opening the boxes in the next morning, whose spider made denser nets are the winners that got excellent skills from the Vega Deity.

  • Pray for a happy marriage and good kids.

Women Praying on Qixi Festival, Part of Painting "Qiqiao on Han Palace" by an Artist of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644) — National Museum of China

  • Bask books and clothes under the sun, since Qixi is the end of humid summer and beginning of cool autumn. 

  • Buy and place a figure named Mohele that looks like a beautiful, cute toddler wearing a lotus-shaped skirt and holding a lotus leaf. 

People believed that Mohele could bring them some beautiful babies, soon.

  • Eat Qiao Guo, a type of dessert that is made of flour, honey, sugar, oil, and other local ingredients.

The shape of Qiao Guo various depends on women's cooking skills and imaginations. 

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