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The Qixi (Evening of Sevens) Festival, also known as Qiqiao (Beseeching Skills) Festival, falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month on the Chinese calendar.
It is alternatively referred to as the Double Seventh Festival, or the Night of Sevens.
This festival originates from a tale that told a love story between Niulang (the cowherd, symbolising Altair), and Zhinü (the weaver girl, symbolising Vega).
Due to the inherent royal blood in the weaver girl and the cowherd being a commoner, their love was forbidden and thus they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River (symbolising the Milky Way).
Once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers for one day.
On this day, people gaze to the sky to look for Vega and Altair shining in the Milky Way, as the bright stars see each other from afar. It was said that if it rains on this day that the rain is the tears of the separated couple.
This legendary festival inspired ceremonial rituals that became common practice. Girls pray for wisdom, and take part in activities that display their domestic skills such as needlework, which was regarded as a must-have talent to marrying well.
Traditionally, there would be contests amongst those who attempted to be the best in threading needles under low-light conditions like the glow of an ember or a half moon. In modern days young children are encouraged to participate in craft from early age, in the hope of acquiring skills that would better prepare them for life.
The Qixi Festival is observed on the7th August 2019 and 25th August 2020.
by Sherry Xie
Career Woman | Bank of America Merrill Lynch
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