Valentine’s Day is often a holiday of mixed emotions. If you’re in a relationship, it can be full of roses, chocolates, and sweet surprises. However, if you’re single, the day becomes quite a bit less fun. You may be led to believe, as many are, that Valentine’s Day is a specifically Western culture holiday. But we are not the only ones who celebrate a day of love.
The Chinese have their own version of Valentine’s Day called the Double Seventh Festival or Qi Xi festival. According to legend, the day originates from two lovers of the past. A young cowherd named Niulang fell in love with the Weaving-Girl named Zhinü, but their love was forbidden because he was only a mortal. So they hid it and eventually had two children. But one day Zhinü’s goddess mother found out and took her away. Niulang’s trusted ox told the boy to kill him and take his hide which had powers that would allow him to go up into heaven. Sadly, Niulang did and went after his wife. The goddess created the Milky Way to keep them apart and the lovers were devastated. The magpies on Earth saw them and pitied them, so they flew up into the heavens and created a bridge for the two to meet on. The goddess now allows them to meet there once a year, every year, on the day of the Double Seventh Festival.
This day is named the Double Seventh Festival because it falls on day 7 of month 7 of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This means that the date can vary every year. In 2016 the holiday will fall on August 9th. The holiday was originally celebrated in very traditional ways, such as women demonstrating domestic skills ranging from sewing to carving fruit.
Present day Double Seventh festival is much more similar to the western Valentine’s Day. This means that they also spend the day with roses, chocolates, and exorbitantly large teddy bears. So perhaps at the end of the day, Chinese culture and Western culture have more in common than we may originally think.