This past Saturday, August 2, was Chinese Valentine’s Day, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year. This is why it is called 七夕节 (qi xi jie), the evening of sevens.
This festival surrounds an ancient love story, that of the Cowherd and the Weaving Girl. The weaving girl was born of an immortal family that dwelled amongst the stars. One day she was bathing in secret on Earth, and met the young cowherd boy. They fell in love and were married. The weaving girl lived on Earth for two years until her parents discovered her earthly relationship and took her back to their celestial abode. The two lovers were so heartbroken to be separated. But the magpies (鹊 que) took pity on them and created a bridge in the sky to reunite them. And so once a year, the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid meet on the magpie bridge arcing through the heavens.
Qixi Festival is known as the traditional day for lovers in China. Old customs called for women to practice their sewing skills in the hopes of meeting their lover on this day, but today roses and chocolates are given and couples take evening strolls. Take a walk over one of China’s many lovely traditional bridges in honor of this special evening, and read more about each place in China Tea Leaves available on iBooks.