Chinese Valentine's Day, or the Qixi Festival, is a cherished celebration in Chinese culture. Unlike the Valentine's Day celebrated in Western countries on February 14, this traditional Chinese festival is observed on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. While sharing a similar theme of love and romance, Chinese Valentine's Day is deeply rooted in Chinese mythology and folklore and influenced by Confucian and Taoist traditions.
What is Chinese Valentine's Day?
Chinese Valentine's Day is a romantic celebration that traces its origins back over 2,000 years. In Chinese, it is known as the Qixi Festival. The term "Qixi" (七夕) refers to the seventh evening in Chinese. In the context of the Qixi Festival, it specifically denotes the seventh day of the seventh lunar month in the traditional Chinese calendar. This festival is often called "Qixi" because it falls on the seventh day of the seventh month. The characters "七夕" directly translate to "seven" (七) and "night" or "evening" (夕), emphasizing the significance of the date in Chinese culture. Celebrated in China and other Chinese-speaking countries, this festival is characterized by tales of star-crossed lovers, poetic customs, and expressions of love that transcend time.
When is Chinese Valentine's Day in 2024?
In 2024, Chinese Valentine's Day, or the Qixi Festival, will be celebrated on August 10, 2024, marking a day of enchantment and romance in the hearts of many. In modern times, two other days are celebrated as Valentine's Day in China: 520 Day and 1314 Day. May 20, or 520 Day, has gained popularity because the date "520" sounds similar to the phrase "I love you" in Mandarin Chinese. Similarly, 1314 Day is celebrated on January 31 and March 14 because the number "1314" sounds like the phrase "一生一世" (yīshēng yīshì), which means "forever" or "for a lifetime" in Mandarin Chinese.
History and Origin of Chinese Valentine's Day - The story of Niu Lang Zhi Nv
The Qixi Festival finds its origins in a captivating legend that has been passed down through generations. At its heart lies the poignant tale of Niulang, the cowherd, and Zhinǚ, the weaver girl. In Chinese, this story is known as "牛郎织女" (niú láng zhī nǚ), which means "The Cowherd and the Girl Weaver."
The Story of Niulang and Zhinǚ Legend has it that Niulang, a humble cowherd, caught the eye of Zhinǚ, a heavenly weaver girl, during one of her descents to earth. Despite the warnings of the goddess of heaven, Zhinǚ was captivated by Niulang's kindness and married him, leading a simple yet blissful life together. They were blessed with two children, and their love blossomed against all odds. However, their happiness was short-lived as the goddess of heaven grew resentful of their forbidden love. She intervened, separating the couple by placing them on opposite sides of the celestial river, represented by the Milky Way. Niulang and Zhinǚ were condemned to yearn for each other's company, their love enduring despite their vast expanse.
Moved by their unwavering devotion, magpies took pity on the lovers and formed a bridge across the Milky Way once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. On this auspicious day, known as the Qixi Festival, Niulang, and Zhinǚ would reunite if only for a fleeting moment, their love transcending the boundaries of heaven and earth.
Chinese Valentine's Day Traditions
The Qixi Festival is steeped in romantic customs and age-old traditions that add a touch of magic to the celebration.
Couples often gather to gaze at the stars on the night of Qixi, emulating the annual reunion of Niulang and Zhinǚ. It is believed that wishes made under the starry sky hold special significance and may be granted by the heavens.
In keeping with the spirit of love and creativity, handmade gifts are exchanged between couples as tokens of affection. Whether it's a handcrafted bracelet, an intricately woven tapestry, or a personalized scrapbook, these thoughtful gestures speak volumes about the depth of one's feelings.
Young women seeking love and happiness might pay homage to Zhinǚ, the celestial weaver. By offering prayers and offerings at temples or shrines dedicated to Zhinǚ, they hope to emulate her virtues and attract a loving partner.
Lanterns are released into the night sky or floated on rivers, symbolizing hopes and dreams taking flight. As the lanterns ascend, carrying messages of love and longing, they illuminate the darkness and serve as beacons of hope for lovers separated by fate.
Love Poetry and Prose
Poetic expressions of love and longing are exchanged between couples, echoing the lyrical verses of ancient poets. Whether recited aloud or penned in heartfelt letters, these romantic sentiments evoke the timeless beauty of love in all its forms.
Chinese Valentine's Day Gifts
Couples exchange various types of gifts on the Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine's Day) to express their love and affection for each other. These gifts are often symbolic and carefully chosen to convey heartfelt sentiments. Some popular gifts exchanged on the Qixi Festival include:
Handwritten Letters or Love Notes
Personalized handwritten letters or love notes are cherished for sincerity and thoughtfulness. Couples may express feelings, share memories, or write poetry to convey love.
Handcrafted items such as knitted scarves, embroidered handkerchiefs, or origami art hold sentimental value and reflect the time and effort invested in creating a meaningful gift.
Rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings symbolize love and commitment. Couples may choose pieces adorned with hearts, infinity symbols, or personalized engravings to signify their enduring affection.
Bouquets of flowers, particularly red roses, are classic gifts that convey love and romance. Each type of flower carries its significance, with roses symbolizing passion, tulips representing perfect love, and orchids symbolizing beauty and elegance.
Sweet treats such as chocolates, truffles, and pralines are indulgent gifts that delight the senses. Chocolate is associated with romance and is often exchanged between couples as a symbol of sweetness and affection.
Soft and cuddly stuffed animals, such as teddy bears or plush toys, are popular gifts that evoke warmth and comfort. They serve as adorable companions and reminders of the bond shared between couples.
Perfume or Cologne
Fragrances are intimate gifts that evoke memories and emotions. Couples may choose perfumes or colognes with scents that remind them of each other or reflect their partner's personality.
Chinese Valentine's Day Food
Food is central to Chinese culture, and the Qixi Festival is no exception. From sumptuous feasts to delectable desserts, food symbolizes abundance and togetherness on this special day.
Qi Xi Noodles
Longevity noodles, also known as "Qixi noodles," are a staple dish enjoyed during the festival. Symbolizing longevity and happiness, these noodles are typically served in a savory broth or stir-fried with various vegetables and meats.
Fresh fruit platters featuring an array of seasonal fruits are a common sight at Qixi celebrations. From luscious strawberries to succulent melons, these vibrant fruits symbolize sweetness, abundance, and fertility, making them a fitting addition to any festive spread.
Dumplings, with their plump and savory fillings, are a beloved delicacy families and couples enjoy. Shaped like ancient Chinese coins, dumplings are said to bring prosperity and good fortune to those who partake in their consumption, making them a popular choice for Qixi festivities.
Sweet Rice Balls
Sweet rice balls, tangyuan, are a traditional dessert enjoyed during the Qixi Festival. These glutinous rice balls, filled with sweet bean paste or sesame paste, are boiled and served in a fragrant syrup, symbolizing family unity and harmony.
How to Say Happy Chinese Valentine's Day in Chinese
To convey your heartfelt wishes on Chinese Valentine's Day, you can say "Happy Qixi Festival" with the following phrase: 七夕节快乐 (qīxì jié kuàilè).
Chinese Vocabulary Words about Valentine's Day
As you celebrate Chinese Valentine's Day, may the timeless tale of Niulang and Zhinǚ inspire you to cherish the love and companionship in your life. Whether through romantic gestures, heartfelt gifts, or shared moments of joy, may this festival be a celebration of love in all its splendor. Happy Qixi Fest ival!
Want your child to learn Chinese? LingoAce is one of the best ways to learn Chinese for kids. Each one-on-one lesson is the product of nearly 200 hours of curriculum development, teacher training, and quality control. Our classes are tailored to meet your child's learning needs.
Experience a redefined Chinese learning experience first-hand and book a free trial class with us today