The romantic legend behind the Qixi Festival being celebrated by Google Doodle
The Qixi Festival is also known by a number of other names, including the Qiqiao Festival, the Double Seventh Festival, Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Night of Sevens and the Magpie Festival
This is everything you need to know about the festival - including the story of Niulang and Zhinü, and how it is celebrated.
What is the Qixi Festival?
The Qixi Festival is a traditional holiday which is celebrated in Taiwan, Singapore and other areas of Asia. It’s based on the romantic legend of Niulang, a cowherd, and Zhinü, a weaver girl and daughter of a powerful goddess, from Chinese mythology.
The story goes that Niulang was an orphan who lived with his brother and sister in law. One day, after being treated badly by his family and abused by his sister in law, Niulang is kicked out of the house with nothing but an old cow.
With the cow’s help, Niulang finds Zhinü, a beautiful fairy who, bored with her life in heaven, decided to become a weaver girl on Earth without permission.
Together, Niulang and Zhinü fell in love and the two got married and lived a happy life together, eventually having two children.
However, when Zhinü’s mother found out her daughter married a mere mortal, she had Zhinü escorted back to heaven by her soldiers. Niulang, heartbroken, chased after his love - but the goddess separated them with a river of stars, which we know as the Milky Way.
The couple’s devastation could be felt throughout the universe, causing all the magpies on Earth to fly up to heaven and help reunite the couple by forming a bridge across the river.
Moved by their love for each other, the Queen decided to allow Niulang and Zhinü to meet once a year via a bridge of magpies flying over the river of stars.
The Qixi Festival has gone by various names, including the Qiqiao Festival, the Double Seventh Festival, Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Night of Sevens and the Magpie Festival.
When is the Qixi Festival?
The Qixi Festival is celebrated on the seven day of the seventh lunar month on the Lunar calendar, which is where the name Double Seventh Festival and Night of Sevens comes from.
The lunar calendar is a calendar that is based on the monthly cycles of the Moon’s phases.
How is the Qixi Festival celebrated?
Showing skills was the most popular way for women to celebrate the festival on the evening of Qixi. Traditionally, women would speedily thread a needle to showcase their dexterity, but other activities include things like carving exotic flowers, animals and birds, usually on melon skin.