Qi Xi: a day for romance in China

Written by: 
Siyang Chen

Valentine’s Day is not the only holiday that symbolizes love. China has long had Qi Xi set aside as s day to commemorate love.
Li Yang, a junior in business from China, who got married at BYU-Hawaii in June 2013, shared his opinion about Qi Xi and Valentine’s Day; “I personally think there is no difference between Valentine’s Day and Qi Xi, because both are the specific time for expressing love. Chinese people would like to have a romantic date on either one with their lovers. We may feel these days are the best time to do something special like making a proposal or getting married. I think it is important to have this kind of holiday because more and more people don’t express their love to others, and this is a good opportunity to do so.”

Niu Lang, the main character of the Chinese myth that started the Qi Xi celebrations, took the opportunity to show his love to his wife in a big way. In the myth, Niu Lang lived with his brother until his brother got married to a horrible woman who drove Niu Lang out. He then lived by himself herding cattle and farming.

Later on, a fairy from heaven called Zhi Nv came down secretly to the earth, saw this hard working boy and fell in love with him. They got married and started their happy life together. Soon Zhi Nv gave birth to a boy and a girl. A few years later, their cow was about to die from old age, and suddenly it said to Niu Lang, “Keep my skin after I die. Sooner or later you will need it for an emergency.”

As Zhi Nv enjoyed her life on the earth, the Queen-Mother of Heaven found out and came to take her back. As his wife was being taken away, Niu Lang remembered the cow and used the skin to fly after her. When he was about to catch up with his wife, the Queen-Mother took her gold hairpins and slashed the sky, making a billowy river appear in front of Niu Lang, separating him and his wife.

They looked at each other with tears in their eyes but never got closer. Day by day, their loyalty to love touched the souls of magpies, so thousands of magpies came to build a bridge for them to meet each other. The Queen-Mother heard tale of the bridge, and eventually her heart softened enough to allow them to meet each other once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. Hence their meeting date has been called “Qi Xi,” as “Qi” is the pronunciation of “seven” in Chinese. On that day, poets write love poems, lovers raise lanterns, and others celebrate the day in various ways in hopes for a romantic, happy and sweet love.

Yingchun Chen, a junior in EXS from Taiwan, shared her opinion about Qi Xi and Valentine’s Day: “Both of them are very romantic, but the story of Qi Xi seems more sad. Now, most of the people in Taiwan celebrate Valentine’s Day more than Qi Xi. Most of the young people don’t even know where the Qi Xi came from and don’t know the story.” Chen explained she believes it is good to remember and practice traditional Chinese culture.

Tandric Bench, a sophomore from Indonesia in business finance, said, “I don’t have a girlfriend so I don’t care about Valentine’s Day too much. But, comparing Valentine’s Day with Qi Xi, I think the creation of Qi Xi was more related to love and couples. The Qi Xi story has stronger romantic emotions than Valentine’s Day.”

Uploaded Feb. 12, 2015