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Chinese culture

Culture note: Chinese Valentine’s day (August 6th)

Happy Valentine’s day everyone!!! —- Chinese Valentine’s day! 

Chinese culture Chinese Valentine's day

If I remember correctly, Western Valentine’s day was only introduced in China around twenty years ago.

The (Western) Valentine’s day festival was first translated into Chinese as “qing ren jie”. “Qing ren” usually refers to “lovers” in Chinese; nowadays, however, it has become quite popular in China to use the word “qing” as “great love” to prompt “love” towards all other people.

On Valentine’s day, if you happen to be in China, you might see the “Chinese knot” hanging everywhere. Although “Jie”/节 means “festival”, Chinese people like playing around with words and use “jie”/结 as “knot” instead — lovers are “tied” together.

The Legend of Chinese Valentine’s Day

In recently years, Chinese started celebrating a so-called “love day”, which is very similar to
Western valentine’s day. This “love day” is usually called Chinese Valentine’s day .

The legend behind this day is very beautiful, yet very sad — it is a love story between a boy called “Niu Lang” and a girl called “Zhi Nü”. It is said that long long time ago (around three thousand years ago), the young Niu Lang (the name means cowherd) by chance met a beautiful girl Zhi Nü (weaver girl), and they fell in love. Zhi Nü was the seventh daughter of a Goddess who lived in Heaven.

One day the naughty princess descended to Earth for fun, and met Niu Lang. They got married and lived happily with two children without the Goddess knowing. Eventually, Zhi Nü’s mother found out that Zhi Nü, a fairy girl, had married a mere mortal, and was furious. She then urged Zhi Nü to return to Heaven.

Niu Lang could not find his wife anymore and was in despair until he was told by the cow he had been caring for long time how and where to look for Zhi Nü. He followed the cow’s instructions (he had to kill the cow and use its dead body to hide) and carried his children to Heaven to look for Zhi Nü.

Zhi Nü’s mother discovered Niu Lang’s strategy and got very angry. She took off one of her hairpins, scratched a line, which then turned into a wide river in the sky separating the two lovers forever. (It is said that the river became a galaxy, and Niu Lang and Zhi Nü became Altair and Vega, respectively.)

Since then, Zhi Nü had to sit forever on one side of the river, sadly weaving on her loom, while Niul Lang had to stay on the other side of the river to take care of their two children.

Once a year, on the 7th of July in Chinese Calender, all the magpies in the world would take pity on them and fly up into Heaven to form a bridge (Que Qiao) over the galaxy, so them two can meet for just a single night. It is said that if you stay underneath a the grape tree late at night, you might be able to hear Niu Lang and Zhi Nü’s talking.

Although this story has been passing on from generation to generation, only in recent years Chinese people started celebrating the love of Niu Liang and Zhi Nü as Chinese Valentine’s day .

Since the festival follows the Chinese Lunar calendar, Chinese Valentine’s day changes every year in Western calendar. This year, the festival will be celebrated today, 6th of August.

So… Happy valentine’s day everyone! and wish love fills every corner of the world, no more sorrows, no more wars, just love and peace!

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