America celebrates Valentine’s Day on February 14th with cards, chocolates and roses. In China, they also have a day devoted to love, but their Valentine’s Day is known as Qi Qiao Jie. It is also known as the Seventh Eve or the Double Seventh Festival. Let’s take a look at some Chinese Valentine’s Day celebrations and traditions.
This year, Chinese Valentine’s Day falls on August 28, 2107. It always takes place on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month in the Chinese calendar, so the date varies every year just like our Easter does. It’s also known as The Daughter’s Festival – a day on which unmarried young girls look for love.
Just like in America, couples exchange tokens of their love and affection with one another. Of course, chocolate is always a popular choice. After all, chocolate is an aphrodisiac. Chocolate fondue is a common dish to share, with Asian fruit and sponge cake for dipping in the syrup. Other foods that are commonly eaten on this day include mango, shrimp, and any dishes with ginger, such as ginger beef and grilled ginger chicken. Melon bowls, mango ice cream, pot stickers, and steamed Asian vegetables with rice are also good choices.
There are two legends associated with Chinese Valentine’s Day. Both revolve around the stars’ position on the seventh day of the seventh month.
The first legend has it that a cowherd, Niu Lang, fell in love with the seven daughters of the Goddess of Heaven when he spotted them bathing in a river. He decided to play a prank on them and take off with their clothing. The seventh daughter, the most beautiful one, demanded that he return the clothes. Having already seen this beautiful woman, Zhi Nu, naked, he insisted they get married. They did, and they lived happily together for several years on earth, away from her mother and sisters.
After some time, though, the Goddess of Heaven longed to see her daughter again and asked her to return to heaven. She did concede, however, that they could reunite once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month, when magpies make a bridge with their wings for the meeting to happen.
The second legend has it that Niu Lang and Zhi Nu were actually fairies who lived on opposite sides of the Milky Way. The Jade Emperor of Heaven attempted to bring them together because he felt bad they were apart. The two fell so deeply in love that they shirked their work duties. The Jade Emperor then decided that the couple could be together just once per year.
Are YOU falling in love with Chinese Valentine’s Day legends? Learn more when you learn about the Mandarin Chinese language with BRIC Language Systems.