Qixi Festival: The Intriguing Origins And Traditions Of Chinese Valentine’s Day 


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Qixi Festival: Traditions of Chinese Valentine's Day

Love stories have always gripped our hearts, going beyond cultures and decades. In China, there is a special celebration of romance and love known as Qixi Festival- the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

This magical event has a unique place in the hearts of the Chinese people and can be traced back to thousands of years. So let us dive into the story behind Chinese Valentine’s Day and learn more about the Chinese Qixi festival.

Qixi Festival: The Chinese Valentine’s Day

Qixi (Qīxījié) Festival, also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day, is an ancient event celebrated in China on July 7 of every year, as per the lunar calendar. The occasion draws heavily from Chinese mythologies and folklore and is celebrated as a day to acknowledge romance and love.

It is often referred to as ‘Chinese valentine’ due the similarity in theme it shares with Valentine’s Day, which is all about celebrating love.

Related: Flower Alternatives For Valentine’s Day: 15 Creative Gift Ideas For Your Valentine

The Heartwarming Story Behind Chinese Valentine’s Day

According to legends, the Chinese Qixi Festival originated from a romantic story between two legendary lovers- Zhinü and Niulang.

Zhinü and Niulang

Zhinü (the Weaving Maid) was an exquisite beauty from heaven famous for her unique weaving expertise; while Niulang (Cowherd) was a simple but happy go lucky cowherd on earth.

One day destiny brought them together when they crossed paths while at a divine gathering. They instantly fell in love with each other and due to their intense emotions, they decided to get married. 

Though their union brought immense happiness it did not please the Queen Mother of the West, who happened to be Zhinu’s mother and ruler of heaven.

As Zhinu’s mother disapproved of their relationship, she sent Zhinü back to the heavens making an impassable river known as the Milky Way to keep the lovers separate. Heartbroken and lost by this situation, Niulang stayed behind  on Earth with his two children while Zhinu was whisked away to heaven by her mother.

The couple’s true love touched the magpies, who felt sorry for them. So on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month they flew over the Milky Way, forming a bridge that helped Zhinü and Niulang to reunite, even for a brief moment. 

This day came to be called Qixi Festival, which signifies eternal love and reunion of separated lovers. This is the Story Behind Chinese Valentine’s Day.

5 Chinese Valentine’s Day Traditions You Must Know About

The Chinese Qixi festival is observed and celebrated through various Chinese traditions that imbue it with significance and beauty. Some of these traditions include –

1. Prayer and Offerings

On the Qixi Festival, people visit temples or altars where they offer fruits, flowers and other symbolic offerings to honor the heavenly couple – Zhinü and Niulang. They usually pray for love, luck, prosperity and  joy.

2. Weaving Skills Display

As Zhinü was known for her weaving skills, young girls often exhibit their own skills in weaving during the Qixi Festival. They typically make colorful woven bracelets and other beautiful crafts as a way of wishing for a successful marriage and a happy family life.

Related: Witches’ Valentine’s Day: How Witches Celebrate Love With 4 Festivals Of Divine Union

3. Romantic Customs

The Chinese valentine’s day is an ideal period for expressing love through grand romantic gestures. Lovers share gifts among themselves, while others pen down romantic poems full of affectionate words and go out on dates. 

Some even choose this day to propose marriages because they believe it will bring good luck to their romantic and domestic life together. Romantic customs are the most common Chinese valentine’s day traditions.

The reunion of the couple The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd on the bridge of magpies

4. Stargazing

In the evening, lovers enjoy the beauty of the night sky by gazing at the Milky Way and the surrounding stars. It is believed that the shining stars represent Zhinü and Niulang, symbolizing their everlasting love.

5. Floating Wishes

Writing wishes on small pieces of paper, attaching these to colorful lanterns or paper boats and floating them downstream often signifies the lunar calendar couple’s reunion day. This practice is a way of praying for one’s wishes to come true.

How People in China Celebrate The Qixi Festival Today

In modern times, the celebration of Qixi Festival in China has evolved while still maintaining its essence and significance. The festival is enjoyed with a blend of tradition and contemporary flair. Here’s how people in China typically celebrate this enchanting festival today:

1. Exchanging Gifts: Chocolates, flowers and thoughtful gifts are symbols of affection and love during the Chinese Qixi Festival.

2. Romantic Dinners and Dates: Couples have a romantic dinner with a special Qixi-themed menu or go for a romantic date to build a stronger emotional connection.

3. Love Poems and Declarations: Based on the timeless stories, couples write personalized poems and heartfelt declarations as expressions of love.

4. Online Expressions of Love: On the Chinese valentine’s day, people also use social media widely to express their love publicly by sharing photos, stories and messages as couples

5. Shopping and Commercial Promotions: Businesses and brands offer discounts & promotions on gift items, clothes, accessories, bringing a commercial angle into the celebration.

6. Traditional Customs: People visit temples, weave, stargaze and do other traditional activities to celebrate this occasion.

7. Media and Entertainment: The Qixi Festival also has an impact in the media industry as TV programs and movies depict romantic storylines inspired by the festival.

Overall, the Qixi Festival embraces both traditional and modern approaches. It is a cherished time for couples to strengthen bonds and celebrate lasting love.

Related: How To Ask Someone To Be Your Valentine: 8 Creative Ways to Pop the Question


Chinese Valentine’s Day

Chinese Valentine’s Day or Qixi Festival is an enchanting blend of romance, mythology and culture. The story of Zhinü and Niulang teaches us the power love has over us as individuals. 

This is why people celebrate this remarkable festival with much love for each other as it makes our lives more enjoyable. The devotion and beauty of Zhinü and Niulang will forever inspire future generations, uniting hearts in everlasting love.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What is the difference between Valentine’s Day and Qixi? 

Valentine’s Day is a Western celebration organized in honor of St. Valentine, while Qixi has ancient Chinese origins, focusing on love.

What is another name for the Qixi Festival? 

Qixi Festival is also known as the “Chinese Valentine’s Day” due to its romantic connection and significance.

How do Chinese celebrate Qixi? 

Chinese celebrate Qixi with gifts, romantic dinners, love poems, and traditional customs.

Chinese valentine's day traditions

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