Love always finds a way: Despite wars, plagues and angry parents, lovers find each other and express their tender feelings. In China, there are six separate Valentine Days! For the past 2,600 years lovers have celebrated the summer Double Seventh Day Qīxījié /chee-sshee-jyeah/ August 25, 2020 (the 7th day of the Seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar.) It is the story of a forbidden love.
A long time ago, a handsome young man called Niúláng (牛郎) was a cow-herd for his elder brother and wife. He was lonely but he played his flute so beautifully that birds listened. Unfortunately, his sister-in-law was mean and sent him away, but he found an old, sickly buffalo in the mountains. With Niúláng’s loving care, the old buffalo recovered strength and the ability to speak Chinese. So they became good friends.
One day, Niúláng followed the buffalo to a river where he saw seven young, beautiful girls bathing in the water. They were fairies, daughters of Jade Emperor, the greatest god in the Heaven. The buffalo told Niúláng to secretly hide one fairy’s clothes. Soon the fairies got dressed and left--all except the fairy named Zhīnǚ (織女) who couldn’t find her clothes and started to cry. Niúláng introduced himself and helped her. She smiled but flew back to Heaven unable to stay with mortals. However, she returned daily to listen to Niúláng’s music.
As time passed he played his flute for her and she was enchanted. They fell in love, got married, and had two kids while living happily in the forest. However, Zhīnǚ’s parents, furious that she married a mortal, flew down to earth to take her back. The dying old buffalo told Niúláng that after his death he should use his cowhide to fly up to Heaven. Holding back his sadness, Niúláng did what the buffalo said and flew to Zhīnǚ with their two children.
Nonetheless, the Queen Mother of Zhīnǚ used her hairpin to draw a line in the sky that became The Milky Way which separated the unhappy couple.
Out of sympathy, the magpies united their wings to form a bridge over the Galaxy, allowing Niúláng and Zhīnǚ to reunite. Finally, the Queen Mother permitted them to meet each other only once a year on every 7th day of the Seventh month of the lunar calendar. . .
Look straight up in the summer sky and see three bright stars: Vega (織女星 Zhīnǚxīng) and Altair (牛郎星 Niúlángxīng) are on the opposite sides of the Galaxy. “The Summer Triangle” is Altair, Deneb and Vega, each of which is the brightest star of its constellation (Aquila, Cygnus and Lyra) American Air Force navigators refer to this asterism as the "Navigator's Triangle."
In China and throughout SE Asia, including Japan, Korea and Vietnam, Double Seventh QiXi Festival is celebrated by sweethearts with romantic dinners, flowers, candies, great wines and lovely music. Together or with Zoom we honor the lovers. If it rains on that day, it is the fairy and the cow-herd crying happy tears.
Traditional foods served during Double Seventh Festival include:
- Yóufàn made with sticky rice. People usually prepare it sweet or salty. If it is sweet, it contains brown sugar, sake and dried longan fruit. If it is salty, then they add dried small shrimp, red onion, squid, pork, mushroom, soy sauce and sesame oil in it.
- Máyóujījiǔ the ingredients include chicken, ginger, sesame oil, sake and salt. According to the custom, after giving birth, women also eat this dish to regain their energy.
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