World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Qixi Festival

Article Id: WHEBN0000251291
Reproduction Date:

Title: Qixi Festival  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Chinese folk religion, Tanabata, Chilseok, Valentine's Day, Seventh day
Collection: August Observances, Chinese Calendars, Chinese Folk Religion, Public Holidays in China
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Qixi Festival

Qixi Festival
Also called Qiqiao Festival
Observed by Chinese
Date 7th day of 7th month
on the Chinese lunar calendar
2015 date 20 August
2016 date 9 August
2017 date 28 August
2018 date 17 August
Chinese 七夕
Literal meaning "Evening of Sevens"
Chinese 乞巧
Literal meaning "Beseeching Skills"

The Qixi Festival (Chinese: 七夕節), also known as the Qiqiao Festival (Chinese: 乞巧節), is a Chinese festival that celebrates the annual meeting of the cowherd and weaver girl in Chinese mythology.[1] It falls on the seventh day of the 7th month on the Chinese calendar.[2][3] It is sometimes called the Double Seventh Festival,[4] the Chinese Valentine's Day,[5] the Night of Sevens,[6] or the Magpie Festival.

The festival originated from the romantic legend of two lovers, Zhinü and Niulang,[1][7] who were the weaver maid and the cowherd, respectively. The tale of The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd has been celebrated in the Qixi Festival since the Han Dynasty.[8] The earliest-known reference to this famous myth dates back to over 2600 years ago, which was told in a poem from the Classic of Poetry.[9] The Qixi festival inspired Tanabata festival in Japan, Chilseok festival in Korea, Thất Tịch festival in Vietnam.


  • Mythology 1
  • Traditions 2
  • Other 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Bibliography 6


The general tale is about a love story between Zhinü (the weaver girl, symbolizing Vega) and Niulang (the cowherd, symbolizing Altair).[1] Their love was not allowed, thus they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River (symbolizing the Milky Way).[1][10] 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.[1] There are many variations of the story.[1] A variation follows:

A young cowherd, hence Niulang (Chinese: 牛郎; literally: "cowherd"), came across a beautiful girl—Zhinü (simplified Chinese: 织女; traditional Chinese: 織女; literally: "weavergirl"), the Goddess's seventh daughter, who had just escaped from boring heaven to look for fun. Zhinü soon fell in love with Niulang, and they got married without the knowledge of the Goddess. Zhinü proved to be a wonderful wife, and Niulang to be a good husband. They lived happily and had two children. But the Goddess of Heaven (or in some versions, Zhinü's mother) found out that Zhinü, a fairy girl, had married a mere mortal. The Goddess was furious and ordered Zhinü to return to heaven. (Alternatively, the Goddess forced the fairy back to her former duty of weaving colorful clouds, a task she neglected while living on earth with a mortal.) On Earth, Niulang was very upset that his wife had disappeared. Suddenly, his ox began to talk, telling him that if he killed it and put on its hide, he would be able to go up to Heaven to find his wife. Crying bitterly, he killed the ox, put on the skin, and carried his two beloved children off to Heaven to find Zhinü. The Goddess discovered this and was very angry. Taking out her hairpin, the Goddess scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers forever, thus forming the Milky Way between Altair and Vega. Zhinü must sit forever on one side of the river, sadly weaving on her loom, while Niulang watches her from afar while taking care of their two children (his flanking stars β and γ Aquilae or by their Chinese names Hè Gu 1 and Hè Gu 3). But once a year all the magpies in the world would take pity on them and fly up into heaven to form a bridge (鹊桥, "the bridge of magpies", Que Qiao) over the star Deneb in the Cygnus constellation so the lovers may be together for a single night, which is the seventh night of the seventh moon.


Ladies on the ‘Night of Sevens’ Pleading for Skills by Ding Guanpeng, 1748

Young girls take part in worshiping the celestials (拜仙) during rituals.[2] They go to the local temple to pray to Zhinü for wisdom.[3] Paper items are usually burned as offerings.[11] Girls may also recite traditional prayers for dexterity in needlework,[3][12] which symbolize the traditional talents of a good spouse.[3] Divination could take place to determine possible dexterity in needlework.[11] They make wishes for marrying someone who would be a good and loving husband.[1] During the festival, girls make a display of their domestic skills.[1] Traditionally, there would be contests amongst young girls who attempted to be the best in threading needles under low-light conditions like the glow of an ember or a half moon.[11] Today, girls sometimes gather toiletries in honor of the seven maidens.[11]

The festival also held an importance for newly-wed couples.[2] Traditionally, they would worship the celestial couple for the last time and bid farewell to them (辭仙).[2] The celebration stood symbol for a happy marriage and showed that the married woman was treasured by her new family.[2]

During this festival, a festoon is placed in the yard. Single and newly-wed women make offerings to Niulang and Zhinü, which may include fruit, flowers, tea, and face powder. After finishing the offerings, half of the face powder is thrown on the roof and the other half divided among the young women. It is believed that by doing this, the women are bound in beauty with Zhinü. Tales say that it will rain on this fateful day if there's crying in heaven. Other tales say that you can hear the lovers talking if you stand under grapevines on this night.

On this day, the Chinese gaze to the sky to look for Vega and Altair shining in the Milky Way, while a third star forms a symbolic bridge between the two stars.[8] It was said that if it rains on this day that it was caused by a river sweeping away the magpie bridge, or that the rain is the tears of the separated couple.[13] Based on the legend of a flock of magpies forming a bridge to reunite the couple, a pair of magpies came to symbolize conjugal happiness and faithfulness.[14]


An interactive Google Doodle was launched on the 2009 Qixi Festival to mark the occasion.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Brown & Brown 2006, 72.
  2. ^ a b c d e Poon 2011, 100.
  3. ^ a b c d Melton 2010, 913.
  4. ^ Melton 2010, 912.
  5. ^ Welch 2008, 228.
  6. ^ Chester Beatty Library, online.
  7. ^ Melton 2010, 912–913.
  8. ^ a b Schomp 2009, 70.
  9. ^ Schomp 2009, 89.
  10. ^ Lai 1999, 191.
  11. ^ a b c d Stepanchuk & Wong 1991, 83
  12. ^ Kiang 1999, 132.
  13. ^ Stepanchuk & Wong 1991, 82
  14. ^ Welch 2008, 77.


Hard copy

  • Allen, Tony; Phillips, Charles (2012). Ancient China's myths and beliefs. New York: Rosen Publishing.  
  • Brown, Ju; Brown, John (2006). China, Japan, Korea: Culture and customs. North Charleston: BookSurge.  
  • Kiang, Heng Chye (1999). Cities of aristocrats and bureaucrats: The development of medieval Chinese cityscapes. Singapore: Singapore University Press.  
  • Lai, Sufen Sophia (1999). "Father in Heaven, Mother in Hell: Gender politics in the creation and transformation of Mulian's mother". Presence and presentation: Women in the Chinese literati tradition. New York: St. Martin's Press.  
  • Melton, J. Gordon (2010). "The Double Seventh Festival". Religions of the world: A comprehensive encyclopedia of beliefs and practices (2nd ed.). Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.  
  • Poon, Shuk-wah (2011). Negotiating religion in modern China: State and common people in Guangzhou, 1900-1937. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong.  
  • Schomp, Virginia (2009). The ancient Chinese. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark.  
  • Mao, Xian (2013). Cowherd and Weaver and other most popular love legends in China. eBook: Kindle Direct Publishing. 
  • Stepanchuk, Carol; Wong, Charles (1991). Mooncakes and hungry ghosts: Festivals of China. San Francisco: China Books & Periodicals.  
  • Welch, Patricia Bjaaland (2008). Chinese art: A guide to motifs and visual imagery. North Clarendon: Tuttle Publishing.  


  • Ladies on the ‘Night of Sevens’ Pleading for Skills. Dublin: Chester Beatty Library.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.