Double Seven Festival

Double Seven Festival

The Double Seven festival occurs on the 7th day of the 7th month of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. This day is also known as Chinese Valentines day. This year (2019) the festival lands on August 7th.

Ancient Story

This day is a special day for two romantic characters banished from heaven and Earth. The girl, Zhīnǚ (织女), was a weaver of fine garments for the empress of heaven, and the boy, Niúláng (牛郎), was a cowherd tending the emperor’s cattle. Their crime? Falling in love. You can watch this video for a modern take on the traditional story, or you can follow this link for detailed article.

Two stars in the sky are named for the lovers: Altair (Niúláng) and Vega (Zhīnǚ). These two stars are separated by the Milky Way galaxy, making it impossible for them to meet. However, according to legend a flock of magpies fly to the sky once a year and create a bridge over the over the Milky Way allowing the couple to meet. The distance between the two stars is 16 light years, so it must take a lot of magpies!

Modern Traditions

The rural people of China still celebrate the traditional way, girls take on sewing projects, while boys showoff their skill with livestock. In the cities it is celebrated as a date night for couples, exchanging candies, flowers or gifts, and perhaps a visit to a romantic bridge.

Vocabulary

PinyinEnglish
七夕Qīxī7th evening of the 7th month
织女Zhīnǚweaver girl
牛郎NiúlángCow herd
星汉xīnghànMilky way galaxy
鹊桥quèqiáoMagpie bridge