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Chinese Festivals | Valentines Day

Updated on January 15, 2013

Chinese Valentines Day ~ Let's Carve Melons Then!

Why carve melons? Well, it was traditionally a way to demonstrate the domestic skills of a young woman to any potential suitors! As well as melon carving, they would display samples of fried cookies, embroidery, quilting and other handicraft. More recently, this practice has waned because of the more modern attitude of couples towards shared domestic duties in China. Chinese Valentines Day is also known as "Qixi Festival" (the Night of Sevens), "Double Seventh Festival" or "Magpie Festival". It is not a gazetted public holiday in China, but is still popular amongst young people.

Image by OH SHUT UP | Lens Updated: May 27th, 2012 @ 10:30 pm Beijing time.

Qi Xi Jie...

originated from the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE)

Niulang and Zhinv (Long_Corridor)
Niulang and Zhinv (Long_Corridor)

Read About Qixi Festival on Wikipedia!

Have a look at what the online reference says...

Qixi Festival (qi xi jie); literally "The Night of Sevens"), also known as Magpie Festival, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar; thus its name. It also inspired Tanabata in Japan, Chilseok in Korea, and That Tich in Vietnam. It is sometimes called 'Chinese Valentines Day' in recent years.

Young girls traditionally demonstrate their domestic arts, especially melon carving, on this day and make wishes for a good husband. It is also known by the following names:


* The Festival to Plead for Skills (qi qiao jie)

* The Seventh Sister's Birthday (qi jie dan)

* The Night of Skills (qiao xi)

Why Carved Melons on Chinese Valentines Day? - A way for a young woman to show her culinary skills to a suitor...

Image by smiley_river! Who wouldn't want to marry the clever young woman who carved these melons? What about someone who offered you delicious fried cookies, or showed their expertise in embroidery? Domestic handicrafts were traditionally displayed during this festival, so the young women could attract a partner. In addition, altars were prepared, and offerings of pastries and fruit were prayed over, to make them an intelligent and resourceful partner!

Some families sit outside in the evening to view the stars and observe the proximity of Niu Lang (the star Altair) and Zhi Nu (the star Vega). In some areas, seven close friends gather to make dumplings (jiao zi). In three of the dumplings a needle, a copper coin and a red date are placed, representing perfect needlework skills, good fortune and an early marriage.

In some Chinese provinces, people believe that decorating flowers on an ox's horn during Chinese Valentine's Day enables them to prevent disaster. On the night of Valentine's Day, women wash their hair to give it a fresh and shiny appearance. Children wash their face the morning after Valentine's Day using the overnight water from their backyards to have a much more naturally beautiful appearance. Girls throw five-coloured ropes, made during Chinese Dragon Boat festival, on the roof for the magpies. Magpies will carry these ropes to build the heavenly bridge. (I wonder whose job it is to retrieve the ropes from the roof?)

In urban China, many young people don't celebrate with this traditional form of activity any more. Instead, they have taken the customs from western society and this charming festival has been commercialised. Perhaps it's just as well, because the modern young woman in China works a long and arduous schedule. Many florists, confectioners, bar owners and gift shops enjoy the increased spending power of young people in China, particularly during Double Seventh Festival!

Romantic Legend Behind Double Seventh Festival! - Read about the love story of the boy cowherd and the girl weaver...

There is a romantic tale about a cowherd (Niu Lang) and a girl weaver (Zhi Nu) that gives background to this festival. As with many Chinese festivals it is part of the lunar calendar, and has an astronomical underpinning.

The legend begins with a poor young cowherd, named Niu Lang, who was cast out by his brother and evil sister-in-law after his parents died. Niu Lang left with an old ox and built a small thatched cottage in the side of a mountain. He somehow eked out an existence by working hard with, and caring for, his ox.

One day, the ox spoke to him and told him that he used to be the bright star, Taurus, who was banished from the heavenly kingdom for stealing grain seed and bringing it to earth to share with the mortals. The ox told Niu Lang that 7 beautiful goddesses would come to bathe in a nearby pond in several days. One of them, the youngest, was Zhi Nu. She was the most beautiful in all the universe! He was to remove her clothes while she was in the pond and she would become his wife.

Sure enough, when Niu Lang made a dash for her clothes, Zhi Nu's sisters all gathered their belongings and fled. The young couple fell in love and were married, even though it was forbidden for mortals and gods to do so. Zhi Nu had twins; a boy named Gold and a girl named Jade, and they lived together as a happy family until the ox became old and ill.

While he was dying, the ox told them to remove his hide and store it carefully as it would allow anyone who wore it to fly - even up to heaven! Shortly afterwards, Zhi Nu's parents found out about this marriage and the enraged Heavenly Queen flew down to earth with soldiers and dragged her daughter back home. Niu Lang came home and found the twins devastated after losing their mother, so he placed them in wicker baskets on a pole over his shoulders and donned the magic ox-hide then flew after Zhi Nu with the children.

The Queen saw them following and cast a spell to create a raging torrent to separate them from each other. After some time, the heavenly King and Queen tired of listening to the crying children so they allowed the family to be reunited, once every year, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. When this annual event takes place, scores of magpies fly into the heavens and form a bridge for the loving family to be joined for a brief time.

Astronomy and the Double Seventh Festival! - Try and see if you can locate these stars in the night sky...

Image from Wikimedia

The heavenly river can be seen in the sky as the Milky Way and Niu Lang is the star Altair while Zhi Nu is Vega. East of the Milky Way, Altair is the middle of a line of three stars, the others (Alshain and Tarazed - not shown) are the twins. In the south-east there are six stars in the shape of an ox (Capricornus). Vega lies to the west and the stars around her form the shape of a weaver's loom. Every year, the two stars of Altair and Vega are closest together on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

"Boy Cowherd and the Weaver Girl" on Amazon! - Learn more about the legend behind Chinese Valentine's Day...

A Happy Chinese Valentines Day to Everybody! - (Qi Xi Jie Kuai Le)

Image by elbfoto

Did you enjoy reading about Chinese Valentine's Day or "The Night of Sevens" as it is sometimes known? Leave your comments and questions below. Please take the time to rate this lens a "thumbs up" at the top LH corner of the page. If you enjoyed it, you may care to mark it as a favourite as well.

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Image: Greekgeek


Now, What Do You Think About The Qixi Festival? - Please take a moment to leave your comments about this festival...

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    • drs2biz lm profile image
      Author

      David Schroeter 6 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      @lucky_star: Thanks, luck_star. What a great call you have made here!

    • profile image

      lucky_star 6 years ago

      Alshain and Tarazed aren't labelled in the diagram but they are the two little stars almost touching Altair. It's a little hard to tell in your diagram, but close up you can really see what the ancients saw: Niulang carrying the twins in the baskets of his shoulder-yoke, the pole bending slightly under the weight. It might seem a little simple, but at least it looks like it's supposed to. Half the Greek constellations totally baffle me. :))

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 6 years ago from USA

      Hi, again. I just linked this lens to my Vintage-Valentines Day lens (in the sidebar) because this one is so unique and interesting!

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 6 years ago from USA

      I have always been fascinated with Chinese history and culture. I am now fascinated by this lens on Chinese Valentines Day! Shoot, I can't carve a melon into straight or equal slices, yet alone make all those beautiful, intricate designs! Terrific lens, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! ~Vicki~

    • christinsword profile image

      christinsword 6 years ago

      I always suspected valentines day wasnt an exclusively american holiday....after all, the world wide knows what its like to love and be loved!

      great lens

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 7 years ago from Nashville, TN

      It is funny how many Chinese (especially the younger generation) has adopted so many of the holidays from America. Here in Guangzhou, I see many celebrating Feb. 14th as Valentine's Day, and they also celebrate the Chinese Valentine's. Today we even discussed how they often celebrate their birthdays as we Americans know it, and then they also celebrate their birthdays according to traditional Chinese culture. So, they actually celebrate twice in many areas of China.

    • JJGJJG profile image

      JJGJJG 7 years ago

      I particularly like the watermellon rose, very nice.

    • drs2biz lm profile image
      Author

      David Schroeter 7 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      @resabi: Thank you, resabi, for your kind words and your blessing!

    • profile image

      resabi 7 years ago

      Fascinating lens. I really enjoyed learning about the customs surrounding this holiday. Lensrolling to my Welsh Lovespoons. This feast showcases the work of the young women; mine focuses on Welsh beaus. I like the folktale -- thanks for making that a part of the lens. Blessed.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 7 years ago from Vermont

      I've always admired the intricate designs of the fruit and vegetables carved in Asian restaurants. I discovered many photos of melons and fruits carved when researching my Halloween crafts/pumpkin carving lens. Chinese Valentines Day is an interesting cultural festival ... I think most women and men in the US are beginning to re-appreciate the value of the "domestic arts" these days. Thumbs up and lensrolled ... quite interesting.

    • profile image

      lionmom100 8 years ago

      Very cool site! I love the carved melons.

    • drs2biz lm profile image
      Author

      David Schroeter 8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      [in reply to eccles1] Thanks for visiting, eccles1 ... glad you enjoyed it.

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 8 years ago

      How nice !!

    • drs2biz lm profile image
      Author

      David Schroeter 8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      [in reply to clouda9] Thanks Correen. Also, today is Chinese Ghost Festival!

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 8 years ago

      This lens is full of information I had no clue about. Like Bonnie I am intrigued by the melon carvings - they are so beautiful there is no way I would want to cut it up to eat. 5'd and faved!

    • drs2biz lm profile image
      Author

      David Schroeter 8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      [in reply to Jimmie] Does this mean "Please People Day"? I'm sure there are lots of names for it... thanks for visiting and commenting, Jimmie. I am now looking forward to Mid-Autumn Festival!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Oh, we call it Qing Ren Jie. I've never heard of Qi Xi. I guess different regions call it different names.

    • drs2biz lm profile image
      Author

      David Schroeter 8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      Thanks, Bonnie. The next thing I intend adding to this lens is some romantic music. I'm just going to pop on over to "Add Music to Your Squidoo Lens" and work it all out! ;-)

    • Rich-H profile image

      Rich 8 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      This is my "I learned something new today" lens. Like others, I am intrigued by the melon carvings. They really look beautiful. Thank you for bringing this celebration to my attention :)

    • drs2biz lm profile image
      Author

      David Schroeter 8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      [in reply to OhMe] Thank you, Nancy. This lens is now being proudly displayed (along with 2 others of mine) on your lens about Festivals, Fairs And Other Special Events. If anyone enjoyed this lens, they can pop over there and vote for it!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Those Chinese Melons are amazing. They put our Jack-o-lanterns to shame, for sure! Excellent lens with lots of information and design. I like your spacers and enjoyed learning about the Chinese Valentine's Day!

    • drs2biz lm profile image
      Author

      David Schroeter 8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      [in reply to sandyspider] Thanks Sandy. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Thanks for all the educational lessons. Those Chinese melons were very intriguing. Great lens.

    • drs2biz lm profile image
      Author

      David Schroeter 8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      [in reply to debnet] Thanks Debbie! I had an ex student ring me from another province last night. She is selecting a university to attend in the USA for next year, and is having boyfriend trouble ATM. I told her to carve a melon and give it to him for Qi Xi Jie. She told me she didn't know how. However, she is a very modern young woman, so will pay someone else to do this for her so she can present the lucky young man with his carved melon. ;-)

    • debnet profile image

      Debbie 8 years ago from England

      Thank you for educating me in the Chinese celebration of Valentine's day. The melon carvings are amazing! But as you say, not many young women have the time to do that now that they work such long hours. Super lens :)

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