The Qixi Festival will be observed on August 22 this year. It is a holiday celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month in the Chinese calendar. As it’s based on an ancient romantic fable of two lovers, Zhinü and Niulang, who were a weaver girl and a cowherd, respectively, the Qixi Festival is also popularly known as the Chinese “Valentine’s Day.”
People celebrate the occasion as a day of love by buying presents for their spouses and romantic partners. The Chinese also observe the day by following various local customs.
History of Qixi Festival
The Qixi Festival has its roots in ancient Chinese folklore. The legend goes that Zhinü, a weaving girl from heaven, descended to earth and fell in love with a mortal named Niulang. They married each other without the knowledge of Zhinü’s mother, the Goddess of Heaven. Zhinü bore Niulang two beautiful children and lived happily until her mother learned of her transgressions, went into a rage, and sent soldiers to retrieve her. Zhinü went back to Heaven.
Sometime later, Niulang tried to rescue his wife, but the Goddess of Heaven took out her hairpin and created a massive river, thinking she had separated the lovers forever. However, Niulang and Zhinü’s love was stronger than she thought. It moved the magpies so much that they flew up to Heaven to form a bridge over the river.
Seeing the love between her child and a mortal man, the Goddess of Heaven allowed the lovers to meet on the magpie bridge on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month every year — and that’s how the Qixi Festival came into being.
According to several Chinese beliefs, the river represents the Milky Way, while Zhinü and Niulang represent the constellations of Vega and Altair. The festival was first recognized as a formal occasion during the Han Dynasty, over 2,600 years ago. Although it sounds romantic, the festival was not initially intended for lovers but for young girls to worship the weaving fairy and hone their skills at handcraft.
However, in modern times, people celebrate the day by gifting chocolates, flowers, and jewelry instead of following older customs.
Qixi Festival timeline
The first written record of the love story of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl appears in “The Classic of Poetry.”
The Qixi Festival originates in China during the Han Dynasty.
Chinese calligrapher, poet, and politician Du Mu wrote "An Autumn Night," a poem about the weaver and cowherd, during the Tang Dynasty.
The State Council of China added the Qi Xi Festival to the National Intangible Cultural Heritage list on May 20, 2015.
The China National Space Administration launches a relay satellite named ‘Queqiao’ or ‘Magpie Bridge.’
French luxury fashion house, Dior, launches the Qixi Dior Amour collection to promote the festival.
Qixi Festival FAQs
What is the meaning of ‘Qixi’ in Chinese?
In literal terms, the word ‘qixi’ means ‘evening of sevens’ as it represents the seventh day of the seventh month as per the Chinese lunar calendar.
What food do people eat during Qixi?
One of the popular dishes that people eat during the Qixi Festival is a thin, fried pastry called ‘qiaoguo.’ Dumplings and honey pears are other delicacies prepared to celebrate the day.
How long is the Qi Xi Festival?
The date is calculated using the Chinese lunar calendar and is around 21 to 51 days later than the Gregorian calendar.
What is a greeting we can say on the Qixi Festival?
Qīxījié Qixi festival!
Qixi Festival Activities
Practice a traditional custom
Traditionally, the Chinese prepare ‘qiaoguo’ or ‘fried, thin pastries’ created in different shapes in honor of the Qixi Festival. To celebrate the holiday, you could surprise your partner by making them a platter of love-shaped qiaoguo.
Get your sweetheart a gift
If you want to keep it simple, you can buy your sweetheart something they love. It could be a bouquet, a playlist of their favorite songs, or their favorite food. Even a small effort can make a huge difference!
Spend quality time with your partner
Nothing could be a better gift for your loved one than your time. Take time out to make your partner feel special. Go for a movie, plan a candle night dinner, or maybe do both while snuggled in the comfort of your home.
5 Interesting Facts About The Qixi Festival
Single women pray for a partner
During the Qixi Festival, single women pray for a suitable husband, while newly married ones pray for children.
It’s the inspiration for other festivals
The Qixi Festival is believed to have inspired other South Asian festivals like the Chilseok Festival in Korea, That Tich Festival in Vietnam, and Tanabata Festival in Japan.
It’s associated with weaving and handcrafting
During the Qixi Festival, Chinese girls start training in handcraft skills like weaving, embroidery, etc.
It prevents disasters
The Chinese decorate their homes with flowers and buffalo wards to ward off evil during the Qixi Festival.
Celebrations vary across China
Various places across China follow different traditions for celebrating the festival.
Why We Love Qixi Festival
It’s the day of expressing love
If you have someone you’ve liked for a while and haven’t had the guts to express your feelings, this holiday is the perfect occasion. Open your heart in the spirit of love, and who knows, you might find your one true love!
It offers the chance to learn about Chinese culture
Besides celebrating the festival with your special one, you also get an opportunity to observe interesting customs associated with it. When else would you get a chance to decorate your house with flowers, try making qiaoguo, or look for the Vega constellation in the night sky?
It allows us to try Chinese delicacies
While getting to know about Chinese culture, you also get to taste delicious dishes like dumplings, cloud noodles, rice sticks, and Qixi pastries. Who would say no to such good food?
Qixi Festival dates