The festival originated from the romantic legend of two lovers, Zhinü and Niulang, who were the weaver girl and the cowherd, respectively. The tale of The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl has been celebrated in the Qixi Festival since the Han dynasty,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.The Qixi Festival, also known as the Qiqiao Festival, is a Chinese festival celebrating the annual meeting of the cowherd and weaver girl in mythology.It falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month on the Chinese calendar.
During the Han dynasty, the practices were conducted in accordance to formal ceremonial state rituals.Over time, the festival activities also included customs that the common people partook.
Girls take part in worshiping the celestials (拜仙) during rituals.They go to the local temple to pray to Zhinü for wisdom.Paper items are usually burned as offerings.Girls may recite traditional prayers for dexterity in needlework,which symbolize the traditional talents of a good spouse.Divination could take place to determine possible dexterity in needlework.They make wishes for marrying someone who would be a good and loving husband.During the festival, girls make a display of their domestic skills.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.Today, girls sometimes gather toiletries in honor of the seven maidens.
The festival also held an importance for newlywed couples.Traditionally, they would worship the celestial couple for the last time and bid farewell to them (辭仙).The celebration stood symbol for a happy marriage and showed that the married woman was treasured by her new family.
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. 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.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.
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