The Double Seventh Festival (Chinese Valentine's Day)

The Double Seventh Festival known in China as Chinese Valentine's Day, falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. Also callded "Qixi Jie" or "Qiqiao Jie", it is a traditional festival full of romance and important to ancient ladies, but not as well-known as other traditional festivals. Not so many Chinese people take it as a festival as before but are all familiar with the story behind it.

It is also known as Magpie Festival, when the Niulang (Cowherd) and Zhinü (Weaver Maid) in heaven would meet at the Magpie Bridge. On Mid-summer Night, the sky is dotted with stars, and people can see the Milky Way spanning from the north to the south. On each bank of it is a bright star, which sees each other from afar. They are the Niulangand and Zhinü, and about them there is a beautiful love story passed down from generation to generation.

The Double Seventh Festival Facts

- Chinese: Double Seventh Festival, Qixi Festival, 七夕节

- Other names: Daughter’s Day (女儿节), Qiqiao Festival (乞巧节)

- Date: the seventh of the seventh Chinese lunar month

- Importance: it’s Chinese Valentine’s Day. It’s been listed into Nonmaterial Cultural Heritage list in 2006.

- History: 2000+

- Festival foods: fried thin paste, crunchy candy, Qiaoqiao meal, longan, red dates, hazelnuts, peanuts, melon seeds

The Double Seventh Festival in China

When Do We Celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day in 2024:

Chinese Valentine’s Day 2024 falls on Friday, August 29, 2024

YearDate Day
2025 August 29 Friday
2024 August 10 Saturday
2023 August 22 Thuesday
2022 August 4 Thursday

Legend -The Beautiful Romantic Story of the Double Seventh Festival

Long time ago, there was a poor cowherd, Niulang (牛郎). His parents died and he lived with his elder brother and sister-in-law, who were both mean and treat Niulang badly. They kicked Niulang out of the house and left him old clothes and an old ox.

Niulang built a cottage at the foot of mountain and took good care of that old ox. One day the ox spoke to him and told that it used to be Taurus, a proud star in the night sky but was published due to his violation to law of the Heavenly Palace. The old ox told Niulang some goodness would come to the pond not far away from his cottage for having a bathe; Zhinv (织女) was among them, who was daughter of king in Heaven, the kindest and the most beautiful; if he could take her clothes away, she would not leave and became his wife.

Niulang listened to the old ox, and went to the pond at appointed day. When the goddess came and took off their silk ropes then jumped into the water. Niulang found Zhinv's clothes and hid away. Other goddesses witnessed Niulang and dressed up quickly and flew away, only Zhinu left. He had adored her from the first moment he saw her. They looked into each other's eyes. The heavenly girl told the poor cowherd that she would be his wife.

They soon got married lived together in that cottage. Niulang worked hard to grow crops and Zhinv raised silkworms. They lived a simple but happy life, with a little boy and girl Zhinu give birth afterwards. Incidentally, it was believed that a day in heaven amounted to a year on earth.

One day the old ox died and they preserve the hide according to its words left. At the same time, the king and queen of the heaven found that Zhinv married a mortal man and had babies. The queen flew down to earth with her solders and caught Zhinv away. Niulang came back home and found Zhinv not at home, only the children left. The babies cried and told him where Zhinv was going. Niulang remembered what the old ox told him and placed the twins in wicker baskets on a pole to carry on his shoulder, put on the magic hide, and flew up, up into the sky.

The queen noticed that Niulang was following them, she became angry, with wave of her arm, and a raging torrent immediately appeared between her group and Niulang. He could not get past this wide swollen river. Heartbroken, Niulang and his children could only look and weep bitterly. The King in his Heavenly Palace was moved by the sound of their crying, and decided to allow Niulang and Zhinv to meet once a year on the Seventh Day of the seventh lunar month.

Chinese Valentine's Day Photos, Chinese Valentine's Day Culture

This sad love story was passed down from ancient times, with little magpies were seen on double seventh day, as most of them fly to Milky River to form a bridge for the annual meeting of Niulang and Zhinu, or we can overhear they murmur endearments under the fruit rack.According to legend, on this romantic evening with bright moon of Double Seventh Festivel, girls placed the seasonal fruits on the table, begging the goddess of the sky can give them intelligent mind and dexterous hands, so that they can get better knitting needlework skills. Moreover, they begged for wonderful love & marriage. In the past, marriage was a lifelong event that determined the happiness of a woman's life. Therefore, countless lovers including men and women in the world would pray for the happiness of their marriage at the starry night.

How Do We Celebrate this Chinese Valentine’s Day? 

In ancient times, the Double Seventh Festival was an important festival for young women and young girls. No matter poor or rich, they would put on their best clothes and place an incense burner in the courtyard and lay out some fruit as offerings. Then all the girls in the family would kowtow to Niulang and Zhinv and pray for ingenuity. The most common custom of the Double Seventh Festival was that women hold various activities to beg for dexterous embroidery skills. See more of the traditional activities of the festival.

Worship Zhinv. In Guangdong, Fujian and Taiwan provinces, girls whatever she is rich or not, groom themselves, and use tetrapanax papyriferus, colorful paper, sesame, rice grains and other crops to make handicrafts, put these in front of the censer, telling their wishes to Zhinu.

Chinese Valentine’s Day traditionas activities

Eating Qiaoqiao Meal. In Shandong province and other areas, seven girls will make some special dumplings in Double Seventh Festival which hide coins, silk yarn or red dates inside. Girls who eat dumplings with coins will get good luck, girls who eat silk yarn from dumplings will get dexterous embroidery skills, and girls who find red dates in dumplings will get a good marriage.

Skill competition. There are many skill competitions during the Double Seventh Festival. One of them is competing who is faster when girls thread seven needles in one thread. Another one is casting needles into a bowl of water to see whose needle can float on the water, which means the girl will get dexterous embroidery skills.

Chinese Valentine’s Day custom

Related reading:

  • The Spring Festival
  • Mid-Autumn Festival
  • The Chinese Lantern Festival
  • The 24 Solar Terms
  • Comments

    Leave a Comment