It was only 45 degrees outside but thousands of people still lined Main Street to watch the Czech Day Parade come through downtown Yukon, Oklahoma. To celebrate the immigrants from Czechoslovakia that settled in Yukon in the early 1900s, the town puts on quite the party each year. The two day festival blended traditional Czech culture with its Oklahoma setting.
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.
If you ever visit San Diego on a Sunday, Balboa Park is a must. Each Sunday afternoon from 12pm to 4pm, the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages showcase national traditions from around the world. This Sunday hubby and I headed to the International Cottages for the annual Ethnic Food Fair. Each house was open for viewing and had a variety of traditional foods for sale. There was also great (FREE!) entertainment representing various countries. Here are some pictures from our ethnic outing:
Dragons danced through the streets courtesy of the House of China.
The House of Argentina served grilled sausages – delicious!
Each house decorates both the inside and the outside to represent their home country.
Not only did we have an annular eclipse in San Diego today (stunning!), but it was also the annual Sicilian Festival in Little Italy. Of course we couldn’t pass it up. We scoped out the Gesso Italiano (Italian Chalk), took pictures of the human music box, devoured delicious meatballs, and eyed the cannoli with desire. If you are interested in delving into Italian culture from home, visit the National Italian American Foundation and check out these great sites: