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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.[2][3][4][5] It falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month on the Chinese calendar.[2][3][4][5]

Qixi Festival
Niulang and Zhinv (Long Corridor).JPG
Also calledQiqiao Festival
Observed byChinese
Date7th day of 7th month
on the Chinese lunar calendar
2018 date17 August[1]
2019 date7 August[1]
2020 date25 August[1]
Related toTanabata (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,[3][5] 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.[6] 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.[7] The Qixi festival inspired the Tanabata festival in Japan and Chilseok festival in Korea.

The festival has variously been called the Double Seventh Festival,[5] the Chinese Valentine's Day,[8] the Night of Sevens,[3][9] or the Magpie Festival.


The general tale is a love story between Zhinü (the weaver girl, symbolizing Vega) and Niulang (the cowherd, symbolizing Altair).[3] Their love was not allowed, thus they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River (symbolizing the Milky Way).[3][10] 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.[3] There are many variations of the story.[3]


During the Han dynasty, the practices were conducted in accordance to formal ceremonial state rituals.[2] Over time, the festival activities also included customs that the common people partook.[2]

Girls take part in worshiping the celestials (拜仙) during rituals.[4] They go to the local temple to pray to Zhinü for wisdom.[5] Paper items are usually burned as offerings.[11] Girls may recite traditional prayers for dexterity in needlework,[5][12] which symbolize the traditional talents of a good spouse.[5] Divination could take place to determine possible dexterity in needlework.[11] They make wishes for marrying someone who would be a good and loving husband.[3] During the festival, girls make a display of their domestic skills.[3] 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.[11] Today, girls sometimes gather toiletries in honor of the seven maidens.[11]

The festival also held an importance for newlywed couples.[4] Traditionally, they would worship the celestial couple for the last time and bid farewell to them (辭仙).[4] The celebration stood symbol for a happy marriage and showed that the married woman was treasured by her new family.[4]

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.[6] 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.[13] 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.[14]


Ladies on the ‘Night of Sevens’ Pleading for Skills by Ding Guanpeng, 1748


Interactive Google doodles have been launched since the 2009 Qixi Festival to mark the occasion.[15] The latest was launched for the 2019 Qixi Festival.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Raitisoja, Geni. "Story of Qixi Festival". GBTIMES. Archived from the original on 16 August 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Zhao 2015, 13.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Brown & Brown 2006, 72.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Poon 2011, 100.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Melton & Baumann 2010, 912–913.
  6. ^ a b Schomp 2009, 70.
  7. ^ Schomp 2009, 89.
  8. ^ Welch 2008, 228.
  9. ^ Chester Beatty Library, online Archived 2014-10-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Lai 1999, 191.
  11. ^ a b c d Stepanchuk & Wong 1991, 83
  12. ^ Kiang 1999, 132.
  13. ^ Stepanchuk & Wong 1991, 82
  14. ^ Welch 2008, 77.
  15. ^ "QiXi Festival 2009". Archived from the original on 2019-06-13. Retrieved 2019-08-05 – via Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  16. ^ "Qixi Festival 2019".


Hard copy

  • 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.