7th night of the 7th month, Chinese Lunar
August 6, 2011
August 23, 2012
According to Chinese tradition, when a man proposes on The Night of Sevens, his bride to be is blessed by seven fairies from the heavens that brings luck in uniting their love forever.
It’s Valentine’s Day in China. But it’s not named for a 3rd century Roman saint. Today’s “Qixi” Festival (Night of Sevens) has its roots in the legend of the Weaver Princess and the Cowherd.
There are many versions of the story. In one, a Weaver Princess comes down from the heavens to do a little skinny dipping. A Cowherd happens across her and—urged on by his mischievous ox—steals the Princess’s clothes. When the Princess finally comes out of the water to retrieve them, she has to agree to his proposal of marriage, as he had seen her in the buff (’cause them’s the rules.)
The Princess grows to love the Cowherd and together they have two kids; however, when the Princess’s grandfather, the Jade Emperor (some sources say her mother) hears about the match, he is not happy. He forces the Princess back to the Heavens, where her job is to weave the clouds. The Princess is the star known as Vega.
When the Cowherd, through some misadventures of his own, finally makes it up to the heavens to see her with their two kids, the Emperor separates them, placing a great river in the sky between them. The river is the Milky Way, and the Cowherd is the star Altair. Their two children are the smaller stars beside him.
It’s said that the two lovers are allowed to meet only once a year, in mid-summer, on the 7th evening of the 7th moon in the Chinese lunar calendar.
Qixi means “Night of Sevens” but it’s also called “Daughter’s Day.” In Japan, it is known as Tanabata and is also celebrated on July 7th. (7/7)
The traditions and rituals related to the festival have gone through several incarnations over the past 2000 years. These days Qixi is a day of romance for lovers and can be compared in many ways to Valentine’s Day in the West.