Qixi Festival

Qixi Festival

Double Seventh Festival
English: Qixi Festival, Double Seventh Festival, Qiqiao Festival
Chinese: 七夕节qī xī jié; 乞巧节 qǐ qiǎo jjié
Date: 7th day of 7th lunar month; Aug. 22, 2023; Aug. 10, 2024
Holiday: No holiday 
Observed by: China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and other Asian countries

Falling on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, the Qixi Festival, or Double Seventh Festival, is widely known as China Valentine's Day. It is a day full of romance because of an ancient household love story in China about Niulang and Zhinu (Cowherd and Weaver Girl).

China Valentine's Day

Although the western Valentine's Day on Feb. 14 prevails in China for years, Chinese people attach more and more importance to Qixi, their own Valentine's Day. Lovers and couples exchange gifts on that Chinese lovers day, and some youngsters like to join traditional activities in ancient Chinese costumes.

Young Girls' Festival (Qiqiao Festival)

For girls, Qixi has another meaning, for it is time of a year to plead with Goddess Zhinu for ingenuity. That’s the origin of its another name, Qiqiao Festival, literally Ingenuity-Begging Festival. Girls in ancient time join various competitions on needlework, while only part of the interesting games retains today, played among girls, the same in the hope of getting all smart and beautiful things.

 Read more: Why is Chinese Valentine’s Day Called Qiqiao Festival?  


When is Chinese Valentine's Day? Date of Qixi Festival 2022 - 2027

2023 Qixi Festival DateChinese Qixi Festival falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, so the date on Gregorian calendar changes every year. There is no holiday for this festival. In 2023, it falls on August 22. 

Year Date of Qixi Festival
2022 August 4, Thursday
2023 August 22, Tuesday
2024 August 10, Saturday
2025 August 29, Friday
2026 August 19, Wednesday
2027 August 8, Sunday

Origin of Qixi Festival – Love Story of Niulang and Zhinu

In ancient Prehistoric Times (1.7 million years ago - the 21st century BC), Chinese already worshipped stars. Niulang, referring to Altair and Zhinu, the Vega, on two sides of the Milky Way catched their eyes. As the two meet each other once a year, their reunion day was worshipped as a special day. 

In the Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), Zhinu the Vega was deified as a skillful weaver girl waving clouds, and at the same time patroness of females and kids. Hence, young girls prayed on 7th day of the 7th lunar month, considered as the birthday of Zhinu for skillful hands. By Song Dynasty (960 - 1279 AD), the custom of praying for ingenuity on 7th day of the 7th lunar month had been very popular and there were even specialized markets selling the stuff for the praying ceremony in the capital.  

The most popular origin and love story of Chinese Qixi Festival is about Zhinu, the Weaver Girl and Niulang, the Cowherd. Their love was banned by Zhinu’s parents and Niulang was exiled to the earth. One day, when Zhinu came down to the earth for a bathing, the two met each other. Zhinu then decided to stay on the earth without permission, got married with Niulang and gave birth to two lovely kids. But happy time did not last long. Zhinu’s mother, Xiwangmu, or known as Heavenly Queen Mother got to know it and sent heavenly soldiers to take Zhinu back by force. Seeing it, Niulang carried their two kids and chased in a hurry. When Niulang was getting more and more closer, the Heavenly Queen Mother hurled her hairpin to create a river, the Milky Way, between them. Sorrowfully, Niulang and Zhinu cried from the bottom of their hearts. This moved magpies and they flew over to form a bridge over the river for the two to meet in the center. The Heavenly Queen Mother was also moved and allowed Niulang and their kids to stay in the heaven. But the family can only reunite once a year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month with the help of magpies. 


How to Celebrate Qixi Festival - Present-day Activities & Ancient Traditions

Presently, Chinese lovers and couples usually have a date on this Chinese lovers’ day and present gifts to each other. In recent years, more and more lovers choose to get married at a registry, or hold an ancient Chinese style wedding ceremony on that romantic day. The activities to pray for ingenuity are only inherited and popular in a small scale and young girls like to wear traditional Chinese costumes to attend them. 

But traditionally, the festival was very popular among young girls and there were various activities on that day. Here were some of the most popular ones and only a few are kept till today:

1. Worship the Moon & Appreciate the Stars

On that evening, girls would take a bath with water and sap, wear new clothes and worship the moon, as in ancient Chinese concept, moon was the auspicious sign for women. After, they would appreciate the Vega and Altair getting together, symbolizing the reunion of Zhinu and Niulang. 

2. Pray to Zhinu for Skillful Hands

On 7th day of the 7th lunar month, the birthday of the Weaver Girl, women in ancient China would pray to her for skillful hands, which were considered to be the trait of a good wife. In some areas, they also prayed for intelligence, happy marriage, and conceiving a baby, etc. 

3. Ingenuity Competitions

There were many different forms of competitions for ingenuity. Among them, threading multiple-hole needles was the most popular and the oldest dating to the Han Dynasty. Young girls would thread needles with five, seven or even nine holes. The one finished the threading fastest would win. Since Northern and Southern Dynasties (420 - 589 AD), young girls would catch a spider on the festival day and kept them overnight. In the next morning, the better the web, the handier the owner was predicted to be. In Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1911 AD), girls would mix river water and well water on the festival, then put needles gently on the surface of the water on the second day. If the shadow of the needle was in other shape instead of straight, it implies the girl had successfully obtained ingenuity.   

4. Eat Qiaoguo (Qixi Pastry)

Long time ago, there was a young girl who was sympathetic towards Zhinu and Niulang. Every Qixi Festival, she would make some delicate pastries and pray that the two could reunite smoothly. The Jade Emperor was touched by her and ordered Matchmaker to find her a Mr. Right. After, more and more young girls made pastries on that day in hope of their Mr. Right and the custom of eating Qixi pastry formed. Nowadays, Qixi pastries are still popular in Shandong, Shanghai, Shaoxing and some nearby areas. The Shandong style are tiny baked pastries in animal or flower shapes while Shanghai style are fried thin twisty pastries. 
 Read more: 10 Traditional Qixi Festival Foods

Other interesting traditions included welcoming fairies down to earth, bathing in the river the Zhinu once bathed, storing Qixi water, washing hair, dying fingernails, etc. They also sent gifts, but very different from present ones, including rhinoceros horn, tongguan grass, wolf teeth, etc. 

 Read more:

Chinese Qixi Festival is nowadays widely recognized as China Valentine's Day. The other two are Lantern Festival and Shangsi Festival (Double Third Festival). 

In ancient times, unmarried girls were not allow to leave their homes at random and Lantern Festival was one of the a few days that they would allow to go to the street to appreciate colorful lanterns and guess lantern riddles. At that night, many young girls and young boys met and fell in love, while some lovers would take the chance to have a date, hence the festival was somehow a valentine’s day.  

Shangsi Festival (Double Third Festival) falls in spring full of vibrant flowers and plants, making it a good time to have a date. Nowadays, some Chinese ethnic minority young girls and young boys still sing love songs on that day to express their love to each other.  

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- Last updated on Apr. 28, 2023 by Catherine He -
Questions & Answers on Qixi Festival
Asked by Kathryn Woehler from UNITED STATES | Aug. 24, 2017 14:11Reply
What is the best way for two women friends to celebrate Qixi?
I am an old woman. What can I do for a fourty year old woman and her twenty year old daughter who has no boyfriend?
Answers (4)
Answered by Steve from UNITED KINGDOM | Aug. 24, 2017 20:49

Actually there's no specific celebrating ways nowadays even in China. Anyway, you can have a big dinner together. If wanting to surprise your daughter, prepare a bunch of roses or a box of chocolate for her. Also you may tell her about the ancient legend of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu.
Answered by Kathryn Woehler | Aug. 27, 2017 20:04

The site I used was from 2014 and I wasn't sure anyone would reply

Y'all responded so QUICKLY :-)
Great answers. Jiawen will be so surprised with a box of chocolates on Monday :-))
Answered by dean from JAPAN | Feb. 22, 2019 21:39

first make them intercourse
Answered by Shuai lin Wang | Aug. 12, 2021 02:42

Nothing is better than a wholeheart blessing.If you want to let your friend pleasure,giving her some small gift is also a good choice.The best importance things you suppose to do is let her know she is not alone.She has a lot good fiend arond her although she don't have a boyfriend.
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