七夕 Qixi Festival 17 August 2018

Today is 七夕 Qixi Festival which is often described as “China’s Valentine Day”. As its name suggests, it is held on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. Since it is a festival celebrated by young women, it’s also called  女儿节 or Girls’ Festival. This festival has also spread to neighboring countries and is known as Tanabata in Japan.The story of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl (identified with the stars Altair and Vega) is associated with this festival. In ancient China, skills such as sewing, weaving and embroidery were greatly valued in women as they were seen as essential skills for good wives. Since the Weaver Girl is known for her weaving, young women would pray to her for such skills in handicrafts (乞巧 qi qiao)and also for a good husband by setting up an altar with fruits, flowers, tea, wine and other offerings at night. They would also play games showing off their dexterity such as threading needles by moonlight until midnight. To remember the faithful ox in the legend, young children would honor oxen on this day by picking wild flowers and putting them on their horns. People would also eat 巧果( traditional pastries made of wheat flour) on this day.

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