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

Qixi, also known as the Qiqiao Festival or Double Seventh Festival, is a traditional celebration dedicated to women.


Qixi Festival is observed on the 7th of July in the Traditional Chinese Calendar, marked by rich cultural customs and rituals.


Beyond the enduring love legend of Vega, Qixi is also a tribute to women, highlighting their pursuit of exceptional skills and sincere love.

Women Celebrating Qixi Festival

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

Qixi Festival Origin


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

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

Vega Goddess, named Qi Jie, Qi Niang, or Zhi Nv in Chinese folklore

The Legend of the Qixi Festival — Niu Lang and Zhi Nv


In the late Han Dynasty, the love story of Vega (Zhi Nv) and Altair (Niu Lang), also named The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, was formed and became one of the most popular folk legends in Chinese culture. 

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

One day, she secretly visited Earth out of curiosity and fell in love with a young man named Niu Lang.


Soon, they married, had kids, worked hard, and lived happily together. 

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

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

Niu Lang and Kids Chasing Zhi Nv in sky

The Queen of Heaven then pulled out her hairpin and drew on the Milky Way, which soon became a deep river with roaring waves separating this couple 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 impresses everyone in heaven. 

A long time later, the 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 for this beloved couple to reunite on that day. 

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

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

Is the Qixi Festival the Chinese Valentine's Day


The love of Vega (Zhi Nv) and Altair (Niu Lang) is beautiful, sincere, and eternal.


Therefore, their reuniting date, the Qixi Festival, has been celebrated as Chinese Valentine's Day in recent decades. 


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


But celebrating the great love of Vega (Zhi Nv) and Altair (Niu Lang) is also reasonable.


Their love is about passion and romance, loyalty, persistence, unstoppability, and eternality. 


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

Chinese Symbols for Love

Celebration Traditions and Activities of Qixi Festival


  • 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) on the night of Qixi under the moon.

Women threading needles under the moon of Qixi Festival

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, on the night of Qixi.


When opening the boxes the following day, those whose spiders had made denser nets were the winners who got excellent skills from the Vega Deity.

  • Pray for a happy marriage and good kids.

Women Praying on Qixi Festival

Women Praying on Qixi in 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 the 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.

People Buying Mohele for the Qixi Festival
  • Eat Qiao Guo, a type of dessert that is made of flour, honey, sugar, oil, and other local ingredients.

The shape of Qiao Guo varies depending on women's cooking skills and imagination. 

Qiaoguo, the Traditional Food of the Qixi Festival
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