Qixi festival is a 2000-year-old festival known as Chinese Valentine’s Day. It was a grand festival but has lost its importance for about half a century. People still celebrate it, but there is no public holiday for it. It is celebrated annually on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, which gave it another name: Double Seven Festival.
However, the literal meaning of this festival is the Seventh Sunset Festival, which is especially a celebration for girls. There is a love story behind the celebration of this festival that you’ll learn later in this article. However, we also explained the activities they performed during the festival celebration.
Part 1: Why Is The Qixi Festival Celebrated?
This festival is celebrated to honor the ancient love tale that represents the annual meeting of the cowherd boy and weaver girl. It is a folk story which is hundreds of years old that makes the Day a festival celebration. It includes praying for the fulfillment and longevity of relationships and love.
However, the Qixi festival also represents the annual meeting as each character has a specific part in this love tale. The meaning of Qi is seventh; Xi means sunset, and the meaning of Jie is festival. So, the meaning of 七夕节 (Qīxījié) is Seventh Sunset Festival. It is common to exchange gifts, make wishes, and do different activities at this festival.
Part 2: How was the Qixi Festival celebrated?
This love festival started during the Han Dynasty but is celebrated today like Valentine’s Day. Many traditional practices are no longer present in this modern era. People modernly celebrate the Qixi Festival 2023, including exchanging gifts, scenic walks, dinners, etc. However, the following are the traditional practices that represent the festival.
Worship The Moon
The main traditional practice of the Qixi festival is to worship the moon, which the girls perform. On the evening of this festival, the girls shower with sap and water to prepare for the worship.
They also wore new clothes and started worshiping because, as per Chinese history, the moon symbolizes women. After worshiping the moon, they also admire the stars named Vega and Altair. However, these stars symbolized the lovebirds of the ancient story.
Praying For Skillful Hands
In ancient times, women used to prepare a table with wine, tea, fruits, peanuts, dates, seeds, etc., as a table of offerings. After preparing it, they prayed for skillful hands, which were considered a sign of a good wife.
In the evening, they sat around the table, displayed their needlework, and prayed for a better husband and life. After this, they play games and read poems till midnight to celebrate the festival.
Eat Qixi Pastry
The main Qixi festival food is the QiaoGuo, a pastry especially made for this festival. It is a fried pastry with different shapes made from flour, sugar, and sesame seeds. These snacks symbolize the sweetness and love of relationships.
It is a snack from ancient times but is still eaten in eastern China, such as Shanghai, Shandong, and Shaoxing. In these areas, QiaoGuo is not just a snack but a cultural display representing the Qixi festival.
In ancient times, there was a custom of dyeing women’s nails during the Qixi festival celebration. Girls dye them with the help of balsam blooms by crushing and combining them with alum. After making this paste, they apply it on the nails and wrap them with leaves until they dry.
However, alum is known for its color-fixing capabilities that give a vibrant look when applied to beautifying the nails. This practice symbolizes the festival and a connection with true nature.
In the past, there were many creativity competitions at the festival, like threading multiple-hole needles. It was a popular competition from the Han Dynasty to let girls do threading with the seven hole needles.
The girl who finished threading first won this competition. However, there was another spider caught competition between the Northern and Southern Dynasties. In this competition, the girls catch the spider and keep them overnight to see who has a better spider web.
Thus, these were the traditional practices made for the Qixi festival, but most are not present today. However, the Qixi Festival 2024 will be held on August 10, but there will be no public holiday.
Part 3: Qixi Festival Story
The festival started because of a love tale between Zhinü and Niulang. The boy was a cowherd, and Zhinü was a weaver girl. It is said that both were a god and goddess who fell in love, but it was forbidden because of the laws of heaven.
Zhinu was the granddaughter of the queen’s mother who gave punishment for weaving clouds daily. Niulang was sent to Earth having a brother and sister-in-law who mistreated them. His only companion was his old ox, with which he worked hard to make ends meet.
However, this ox became the reason both Zhinu and Niulang reunited on Earth. They got married and were blessed with a son and a daughter. When the queen’s mother discovered this, she took back the Zhinu, but magpies became the reason for their annual meeting.
Part 4: Difference Between Qixi Festival And Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day and the Qixi festival are both celebration days of love, but they have different origin stories. Following are the differences between these two celebrations.
Different Cultures: There is a big cultural difference between these two celebrations, as the Qixi festival is celebrated because of Chinese folklore. This festival represents the love tale between the Zhinu and Niulang. Valentine’s Day originated from the ancient Christian and Roman traditions. This Day is celebrated on the death day of St. Valentine, who performed a wedding because of the soldiers.
Different Dates: The Qixi festival is celebrated per the lunar calendar on the 7th Day of the 7th month. However, Valentine’s Day has a date of February 14, which is a consistent day globally.
Different Traditions: During Valentine’s Day, there is a tradition of exchanging gifts, cards, flowers, and having dinner together. Qixi festival traditions include making prayer wishes and having different activities as a part of the celebration.
Q1: What Is The Best Way For Two Women Friends To Celebrate Qixi?
In this modern era, this festival is not celebrated traditionally in China. So, you can have dinner with your friends or plan an outing on this Day. If you want to surprise your friend, you can plan a surprise gift along with the dinner. However, you can also tell the love story of Zhinu and Niulang to your friends.
Q2: What Does The Qixi Festival Celebrate?
It is a celebration of romantic love in the form of a festival described as a traditional practice of the past. It is also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day because it represents a love tale from ancient times. In ancient times, people used traditional practices like worshiping the moon, having dinner together, competitions between girls, etc. In modern celebrations, there are no such practices made on this Day.
It is a grand celebration of ancient times, but there is a big difference between traditional and modern celebrations. However, it falls in spring when you can see the blossom of flowers and plants that make the Day wonderful.
Moreover, this festival is only practiced in some parts of China, while many areas celebrate the modern Valentine’s Day. Today, people spend time together, have dinner, exchange gifts, or give flowers to each other. If you visit China, you can celebrate this traditional festival and read a love tale.
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