Qixi Festival: in memory of the longest-distanced and forbidden relationship in Chinese Tales

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Stop here with a cup of tea, read what I think, sip some Chinese culture knowledge, perhaps…makes your life change.

                                                                                                                                    -by Hsiao-Yu Liao

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Qixi Festival: in memory of the longest-distanced and forbidden relationship in Chinese Tales

In Chinese culture, the 7th lunar month is said to be the month of ghosts; however, it is also a month recording a romantic love story in Chinese mythology – Qixi Festival七夕节 (qīxì jié) or Qiqiao Festival乞巧节 (qǐqiǎo jié), as known as the Double Seventh Festival or the Chinese Valentine’s Day中國七夕情人节 (Zhōngguó Qīxì qíngrén jié).

The Chinese Qixi Festival falls every year on the seventh day of the 7th lunar month.  This year, this romantic Chinese Valentine’s Day is on August 13th!  It is the day in memory of a couple’s reunion and to witness a lasting relationship despite of the hardness and obstacles a couple may face.  As you read the story through, you may go grab a box of tissue and see what this Chinese longest-distanced couple is about.

Long long time ago, there was an honest and tolerant young man whose parent died young and left him to live with his brother and his brother’s wife.  The young man was often tortured by his sister-in-law and was soon driven out from his brother’s house, left him only an old cow.  He was then called牛郎 (niú láng – the cowherd).  One day, this poor牛郎 (niú láng) met a lovely girl called织女 (zhī nǚ – the weaver maid) escaping from the boring heaven.  They soon fell in love with each other and got married.  They had two kids, a boy and a girl, and lived a happily life.

Unfortunately, 织女 (zhī nǚ)’s mother, 王母娘娘 (wángmǔ niángniang – the goddess) later found out their affairs and was furious about the intercourse between heavenly and mortal.  王母娘娘 (wángmǔ niángniang) came down to earth and brought 织女 (zhī nǚ) back to heaven, using her golden pin scratching out a river in the sky to separate this couple apart forever.  With the old cow’s help, 牛郎 (niú láng) was able to go to heaven with their children to find 织女 (zhī nǚ).  But the Silver River银河 (yín hé – the Milky Way) drawn by王母娘娘 (wángmǔ niángniang) still separated them apart.  They were helpless and kept shedding tears.  Their true love touched the喜鹊 (xǐ què – magpies) which flew together and made a bridge of the magpies鹊桥 (què qiáo) for them to meet each other.  To this, 王母娘娘 (wángmǔ niángniang) had nothing to do but to agree that they could only meet once a year on the seventh day of the 7th lunar month on鹊桥 (què qiáo –the bridge of the magpies).

This ancient love story has been told for almost two thousand years in Chinese from Han Dynasty.  The day and the forbidden long-distanced love of牛郎 (niú láng) and织女 (zhī nǚ) was always remembered by the Chinese.  If their love touches your heart, you might also want to look up to the clear sky on the night of August 13th.  You may see the magpies forming a bridge on the Silver River银河 (yín hé) over the star 天津四 (tiānjīn sì – Deneb) to connect牛郎星 (niúláng xīng – Altair) and织女星 (zhīnǚ xīng – Vega).  Only on that single night of a year could the beloved but separated couple finally meet each other ever again.

20130806 silver river 2

picture resource: Silver river:https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200155878169178&set=a.1775765043410.2079710.1517864042&type=1&theater

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