Qixi Festival

Picture by Vows on the Move on Unsplash.

I seem to remember being told that if you look into a basin of water on the evening of the Qixi Festival (七夕节), you will see the reflection of star-crossed lovers Zhinü and Niulang meeting on the swallow bridge.

I’ve never been able to find any record of such a belief so I probably imagined it, but the love story of the cowherd and the weaver is one of the few Chinese myths I was told by my mother when I was a child.

The celebration is also called Qiqiao, the Double Seventh Festival, Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Night of Sevens, or the Magpie Festival. The reason for the number seven occurring in so many of the names (Qixi means seventh evening), is because the festival is on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, the one day the lovers are allowed to meet.

The reunion of the Zhinü and Niulang on the bridge of magpies. This painting is in the Long Corridor of the Summer Palace in Beijing.

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