Flowers for Chinese Valentines Day
The Double Seventh Festival (Qixi Festival) is one of many traditional Chinese festivals, and is also known as the Chinese Valentine's Day. It usually falls on the seventh day of the seventh Chinese lunar month, and this year will be celebrated on August 9.
The day is usually celebrated mostly by young women, who use it as an opportunity to demonstrate their domestic skills, such as praying for happiness, wealth, and longevity, worshiping Zhinü (the weaver god), and making wishes for a good husband.
These days the festival has lost a lot of the traditional customs, and many participants have adopted the more Western practice of gifting flowers, chocolate and other presents to loved ones. In fact, in many Chinese Cities, the Western Valentine's Day, celebrated on February 14, has become more popular among the younger generations.
The festival dates back more than 2000 years, having been celebrated in China since the Han Dynasty (around 200 BC).
The origins of the festival are said to be in honour of two young stars, who fell in love, but were forced to separate. The story goes that Zhi Nü, the 7th daughter of the lord of heaven, fell in love with Niu Lang, a poor but industrious cowherd.
When the emperor discovered their love, he forced them to separate. The 7th daughter was forced to move to the star Vega and the cowherd moved to the star Altair. They are allowed to meet only once a year on the day of 7th day of 7th lunar month.
In the Chinese cities, the Western Valentine's Day is more favored than the Double Seventh Festival by young people. They spend the latter as the Valentine's Day. Although some traditional customs have been changed or been lost, the legend of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu is still passed down from generation to generation. Like the presents of Valentine's Day, flowers and chocolates are also the popular ones.