How well you know about Chinese Culture – The Double Seventh Festival (Part 3)
As one of the four ancient civilization countries in the world, the history of China is more than 5000 years. During this period, many festivals have been developed and passed down from generations to generations. Unlike the western country, most of the traditional Chinese festivals are celebrated according to the Chinese lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar. This series of articles is going to present you 6 traditional Chinese festivals. In this article, I would present you with the Chinese Valentine’s Day.
The Double Seventh Festival, also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day, is on the seventh day of the seventh month (July) of the year based on the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival can date back to the Han Dynasty when women would pray to the Vega for the wisdom on the seventh day of the seventh month of the year. Over the past centuries, with the introduction of the romantic tale between the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid and efforts made by the modern media, the Double Seventh Festival has become more well-known world widely by its another name – the Chinese Valentine’s Day.
The love story between the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid is one of the four Chinese love folklores. It is said that there were a happy couple – the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid. The Weaving Maid was once a fairy living in the heaven. Once, her friends and she travelled to the earth and she met and fell in love with the Cowherd. They were married and had two lovely children. However, in the end, their marriage was found by the Queen of Heaven. The once-fairy was caught. The Cowherd and the children tried to rescue his wife and their mother with a magic boat that can fly in the sky. Just when he was about to succeed, the Queen of Heaven used her gold hairpin to create the Milky Way (the galaxy) to separate the couple. The children were crying for their mother. Magpies were touched by the scene and the love and formed a bridge over the Milky Way so that they can meet with each other. In the end, the King of Heaven allowed the family to meet once every year on the seventh day of the seventh month.
It is unclear when and where the folklore was originated, although, over the past centuries, the story is believed by a lot of young women who would pray to the sky for not only the wisdom but also a good husband and family.
There were also other activities related to this festival. For example, in the Hunan Province, it was said that the young women would wash the hair on the seventh day of the seventh month because it was believed that the water on that day had the magic power as if the water was taken directly from the Milky Way, and those who used the water would be protected by the Vega.
However, nowadays, what people do to celebrate this festival is not that different from what the West do for Valentine’s Day; hence, the Double Seventh Festival is widely known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.