The Qixi Festival, also known as the Qiqiao Festival, is a Chinese festival celebrating the annual meeting of the cowherd and weaver girl in mythology. It falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month on the Chinese calendar.
|Also called||Qiqiao Festival|
|Date||7th day of 7th month|
on the Chinese lunar calendar
|2018 date||17 August|
|2019 date||7 August|
|2020 date||25 August|
|Related to||Tanabata (Japan), Chilseok (Korea)|
|Literal meaning||"Evening of Sevens"|
|Literal meaning||"Beseeching Skills"|
The festival originated from the romantic legend of two lovers, Zhinü and Niulang, who were the weaver girl and the cowherd, respectively. The tale of The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl has been celebrated in the Qixi Festival since the Han dynasty. The earliest-known reference to this famous myth dates back to over 2600 years ago, which was told in a poem from the Classic of Poetry. The Qixi festival inspired the Tanabata festival in Japan and Chilseok festival in Korea.
The general tale is a love story between Zhinü (the weaver girl, symbolizing Vega) and Niulang (the cowherd, symbolizing Altair). Their love was not allowed, thus they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River (symbolizing the Milky Way). Once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers for one day. There are many variations of the story.
Girls take part in worshiping the celestials (拜仙) during rituals. They go to the local temple to pray to Zhinü for wisdom. Paper items are usually burned as offerings. Girls may recite traditional prayers for dexterity in needlework, which symbolize the traditional talents of a good spouse. Divination could take place to determine possible dexterity in needlework. They make wishes for marrying someone who would be a good and loving husband. During the festival, girls make a display of their domestic skills. Traditionally, there would be contests amongst those who attempted to be the best in threading needles under low-light conditions like the glow of an ember or a half moon. Today, girls sometimes gather toiletries in honor of the seven maidens.
The festival also held an importance for newlywed couples. Traditionally, they would worship the celestial couple for the last time and bid farewell to them (辭仙). The celebration stood symbol for a happy marriage and showed that the married woman was treasured by her new family.
On this day, the Chinese gaze to the sky to look for Vega and Altair shining in the Milky Way, while a third star forms a symbolic bridge between the two stars. It was said that if it rains on this day that it was caused by a river sweeping away the magpie bridge or that the rain is the tears of the separated couple. Based on the legend of a flock of magpies forming a bridge to reunite the couple, a pair of magpies came to symbolize conjugal happiness and faithfulness.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Qixi Festival.|
- Brown, Ju; Brown, John (2006). China, Japan, Korea: Culture and customs. North Charleston: BookSurge. ISBN 1-4196-4893-4.
- Kiang, Heng Chye (1999). Cities of aristocrats and bureaucrats: The development of medieval Chinese cityscapes. Singapore: Singapore University Press. ISBN 9971-69-223-6.
- Lai, Sufen Sophia (1999). "Father in Heaven, Mother in Hell: Gender politics in the creation and transformation of Mulian's mother". Presence and presentation: Women in the Chinese literati tradition. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-21054-X.
- Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin (2010). "The Double Seventh Festival". Religions of the world: A comprehensive encyclopedia of beliefs and practices (2nd ed.). Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-59884-203-6.
- Poon, Shuk-wah (2011). Negotiating religion in modern China: State and common people in Guangzhou, 1900–1937. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong. ISBN 978-962-996-421-4.
- Schomp, Virginia (2009). The ancient Chinese. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark. ISBN 0-7614-4216-2.
- Stepanchuk, Carol; Wong, Charles (1991). Mooncakes and hungry ghosts: Festivals of China. San Francisco: China Books & Periodicals. ISBN 0-8351-2481-9.
- Welch, Patricia Bjaaland (2008). Chinese art: A guide to motifs and visual imagery. North Clarendon: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8048-3864-1.
- Zhao, Rongguang (2015). A History of Food Culture in China. SCPG Publishing Corporation. ISBN 978-1-938368-16-5.
- Ladies on the ‘Night of Sevens’ Pleading for Skills. Dublin: Chester Beatty Library.