It`s time for Valentines Day! Qixi festival or Chinese Valentine`s Day, also known as the Double Seventh Festival, this year will take place on 17th of August and is THE day of love and romance in China. It`s also the time when Chinese people recall the story of the Weaving Maid and the Cowherd.
The festival has been celebrated since the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). On May 20, 2015, the Double Seventh Festival was added to the National Intangible Cultural Heritage list by the State Council of China. Many of the traditional customs are disappearing, or no longer observed. You are more likely to find these practiced in rural areas:
- Showing skills (demonstrating dexterity) was the most popular custom for women in the evening of Qixi. The longest standing way to “plead skills” was to speedily thread a needle under moonlight. Young women also carved exotic flowers, animals, and unusual birds, usually on a melon skin.
- Worshiping the weaver fairy (the star Vega), Zhinü (/jrr-nyoo/) involved a table of offerings: tea, wine, fruits, longans, red dates, hazelnuts, peanuts, and melon seeds. In the evening young women sat around the table, displaying their needlework, gazing at Vega, and praying for a good husband and a happy life. Then they’d play games or read poems until midnight.
- Honoring oxen: Children picked bunches of wild flowers and hung them on the horns of oxen in honor of the legendary ox.
- People made and ate ‘Skill Fruit’ (巧果 qiǎo guǒ /chyaoww-gwor/ ‘skill fruit’): fried, thin pastries of different shapes.
Today, the connotation of love in the festival has been almost lost, as young couples could date whenever they want and women are no longer confined indoors. But the lantern shows remain the focus of the festival. Many cities across China hold their own lantern shows during the day, and many are indeed worthy of a visit.
This year in Xi’an city, the provincial capital of Shaanxi and the ancient capital of 13 Chinese dynasties, several lantern shows with dazzling designs have amazed people across the country. In the Datang Culture and Art Leisure Area, a commercial area constructed in Tang Dynasty style, a light show took place along the 1,500-meter main street of the plaza into the night sky, while in Tang Paradise, a tourist attraction, a lantern show was launched to welcome visitors during Spring Festival celebrations.
Even the ancient walls of the city were decorated with lanterns featuring Chinese cultural elements. Many said it was pretty much like walking in an ancient Chinese poem or an ancient painting scroll.
For those in love, as Valentine’s Day in the west and the Qixi Festival have perhaps become too familiar to arouse romantic senses, why not try a date in the ancient way? With lanterns as the set and the moon in the sky, the night could be turned into a stage for the best possible romance. Or you can always book a table at Parkside Restaurant and enjoy the evening with your loved one here! Learn more…