Friday, August 1, 2014

The Legend Behind the Chinese Double Seventh Festival

The Double Seventh Festival, also known as the Qixi or Qiqiao Festival, is a Chinese festival celebrated annually around the beginning to mid August. The name, literally meaning Night of Sevens, comes from the holiday celebrations falling on the seventh day of the seventh month each year.

As with most festivals, there are traditions and rituals surrounding the yearly celebration, specifically for girls and newly weds. Girls make their way to temple to pray  and burn paper in hopes for attracting a loving husband in their future. To pray for a long and happy marriage, newly wed women are encouraged to make offerings of fruit, flowers, tea, and face powder to Niulang and Zhinu, the mythical couple this festival was created for.

This Chinese festival is always one of my favorites to write about because of the legend and mythology behind it. Behind the Qixi Festival is an ancient forbidden love story between Zhinu and Niulang. 

Niulang, a young cowherd, fell in love with the Goddess’ seventh daughter, Zhinu, who fell for instantly for him. They were then married in secret, without the knowledge of Zhinu’s mother. They were happy for many years and had two children. But their happiness was cut short when the Goddess of Heaven found out her daughter had married a mortal and ordered Zhinu to immediately return to Heaven. Niulang tried to follow his beloved wife but was stopped by the Goddess scratching a river in the sky with her hairpin to separate the lovers forever. The only time they were allowed to see each other was on the seventh night of the seventh moon when a bridge forms in the sky to unite them for a single night. This night has since become known as the Double Seventh Festival. 

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