Today (August 23rd) is the Chinese Qixi Festival. When I read about the festival earlier this week, I knew I wanted to participate but there wasn’t a scheduled festival here in OKC so I had to make my own.
The Qixi Festival is held each year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month to celebrate the reuniting of the seventh daughter of the Queen of Heaven, Zhinü to her mortal cow-herding husband Niulang. The folklore says that Zhinü came to earth to bathe and while she was in the water, Niulang’s bull told him that if he stole Zhinü’s clothes she would marry him. (Romatic, right?) The two fell in love, married, and had twins. While they were living happily, the Queen of Heaven found out that her daughter had married a mortal, so she kidnapped her and forced her back to the sky. Now Zhinü and Niulang are the stars Vega and Altair and are only allowed to meet once a year.
The festival is one of romance. Traditionally, the young women go to the temple of the match maker to make a wish for a mate or if newly married, they pray to get pregnant. The festival is also an opportunity to display their handiwork, where melon carving and embroidery are some of the more popular displays. But since the 1990s, the festival has also taken on a commercialized feel now being called Chinese Valentine’s Day.
For my own celebration of Qixi, I participated in several of the traditions, both old and new.