Chinese Valentine’s Day: A Complete Guide To The Qixi Festival
4 minutes read
The Qixi Festival, also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day (and sometimes as the Magpie Festival), has a rich history and has been celebrated for over 2,000 years. It is based on a legend from the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and is regarded as the most romantic Chinese festival.
The Qixi Festival translates to “Evening of Sevens Festival,” which has special significance in the story that inspires this event.
What is the Qixi festival?
The festival’s origin stems from a love story in Chinese mythology.
According to legend, a goddess in heaven was once called Zhinü, or ‘weaver girl’. When she travelled to earth, she met Niulang, or ‘cowherd’, and they fell in love.
Their love was forbidden as Niulang was a mere mortal. Still, Zhinü chose to remain on earth and live with him. They married and raised two children. When Zhinü’s mother (the goddess of heaven) found out about the lovers, she became enraged. She separated them and put them on opposite sides of the Milky Way (sometimes referred to as a river between heaven and earth) as punishment.
The magpies in the sky watched the sad, separated lovers and were touched by their love. So, to reunite Zhinü and Niulang, they built a bridge over the Milky Way. This softened Zhinü’s mother’s heart, and she decided to let them meet on the Magpie Bridge every year on the 7th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar. Hence, the title ‘Evening of Sevens’.
When is Chinese Valentine’s Day?
The Qixi Festival is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. So, its date on the Gregorian calendar changes every year.
This year, it will be celebrated on August 4, 2022. Next year, it will fall on August 22, 2023.
How is Chinese Valentine’s Day celebrated?
Traditional celebrations included various customs and traditions. For instance, young women would dress up in Hanfu (traditional Chinese clothing) and have needlework competitions. They would prepare offerings for Zhinü and pray to her. A dish called Qiaoguo was also served. Qiaoguo is a fried thin pastry that people believed could help bring the couple back together on the Magpie Bridge.
Nowadays, these customs are less popular. However, as the Qixi Festival is now referred to as Chinese Valentine’s Day, it’s celebrated similarly to its western counterpart. So, it’s an occasion for lovers to share gifts and spend time together.
If you’re looking for a last-minute present to buy, we have a few ideas.
Chinese Valentine’s Day: gift ideas
1. A floral bouquet
Who doesn’t love a surprise flower delivery? We love this box of red Infinity Roses by Amaraté London, £175. So what’s unique about them? Unlike traditional roses, they won’t wither away within days. Instead, these flowers undergo a preservation process where their natural sap is replaced with a non-toxic wax-based solution. This makes them last for up to three years if cared for correctly.
2. A box of chocolates
The obvious choices are sometimes the best ones. Are you looking for the perfect chocolates? We recommend any of the signature boxes of handmade chocolate by Dark Sugars. If you can’t choose between them (or want to go all out), pick the All of Us Box, £150, which includes signature truffles, pearls, pipettes and retro chocolates.
3. A scent
Choosing a matching body product can be a great idea if you know of a fragrance your partner loves. For instance, if Eau Dynamisante, £56, is their signature scent, the matching Shower Gel, £21 and Moisturising Body Lotion, £31 will be thoughtful presents that they will love.
You could also gift a home fragrance. We love the Tom Dixon Reed Diffuser, £100 packaged in a beautiful copper jar. The scent inside is a warm blend, ideal for anyone who appreciates woody scents (both women and men). It has a top note of black pepper, a heart of oud wood and vetiver, and base notes of cedar wood and patchouli.
4. A beauty treat
Gifting beauty items can be tricky, so allow us to help. If your significant other loves a bit of R&R, you can’t go wrong with a spa voucher. The Clarins Spas offer a variety of treatments for both men and women. The Wellness Treatment, £74, is a great choice. It’s a head-to-toe treatment that pairs gentle massage movements with relaxing scents to help restore and rejuvenate both the body and the mind.
5. A massage tool
If your partner isn’t a fan of spas but would still love an at-home massage, the Theragun Mini by Therabody, £175, would be the perfect present. It’s excellent for gym-goers, runners or anyone prone to post-activity aches and pains. It offers three speeds that tackle everything from cramps to muscle knots.
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