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Double Seventh Festival (Qixi) 2024 in China

The Chinese equivalent of Valentine's Day falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month

Dates: August 10, 2024

Double Seventh Festival (Qixi)
Double Seventh Festival (Qixi)

The Qixi Festival, also known as Qiqiao, is one of the most romantic traditional Chinese holidays and is often referred to as Chinese Valentine's Day. It is celebrated on the evening of the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, which is why it is also called the Double Seven Festival. This festival is one of the oldest in China, having originated during the Han Dynasty, making it over 2,000 years old—about the same age as the Great Wall of China.

Traditional Celebrations

During the Song and Yuan Dynasties, the Qixi Festival was marked by bustling fairs where unique gifts and goods were sold. Over time, this traditional day evolved into a popular celebration among the youth, especially as a day for lovers. Girls would traditionally pray to Zhinü for wisdom, enduring love, and a good husband. Praying sessions were commonly held in major local temples, such as the Lama Temple in Beijing or the Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong, reflecting the festival's cultural and spiritual significance.

Rituals

In addition to these traditions, the Double Seventh Festival encompasses a wide array of rituals, varying from province to province across China. Some people burn paper crafts as offerings to Zhinü, seeking her blessings. Others present fruits and pastries, symbolizing hopes for a prosperous future. In certain villages, contests among girls to showcase their weaving skills are held, honoring Zhinü's craftsmanship. Another significant tradition is the trend of getting married on this auspicious day, leading to an increasing number of couples choosing this date each year. As evening descends, it is customary to gaze into the sky, searching for Vega, representing Zhinü, and Altair, symbolizing Niúláng, with the Milky Way bridging them—a celestial reflection of their eternal love.

Eating Customs

The eating customs of the Qixi Festival vary significantly across regions and are known as Qiao food traditions. One of the most renowned traditional dishes enjoyed during the festival is Qiao Guo, which has a history dating back over a thousand years since it gained popularity in the Song Dynasty. This dish primarily consists of flour, oil, and honey, with occasional additions such as sesame, peanuts, kernels, and even roses, creating a unique blend of flavors and textures. After mixing these ingredients, they are deep-fried to perfection. In addition to Qiao Guo, people also indulge in crunchy candies, refreshments, and a variety of fruits during the festival. These culinary choices symbolize people's aspirations for creativity, family well-being, and a joyful life, reflecting the festive spirit of the occasion.

Modern Celebrations

In large cities, the traditions are shifting towards the typical Valentine's Day celebrations. Hotels, restaurants, florists, and other service providers capitalize on this by offering special deals on "Chinese Valentine's Day."

Origins of the Festival

The Qixi Festival is rooted in the legend of the cowherd Niúláng and the weaver Zhinü, a touching love story that has been passed down for generations. According to the legend, Niúláng fell in love with Zhinü, a goddess from heaven, with the help of his ox. They soon got married and started a family. However, the rules of heaven forbade the love between goddesses and humans, forcing them to be separated. They were allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. On this day, magpies would form a bridge over the Milky Way to reunite them.

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Last updated:
Authors: Sophia Andrus