Guest Author - Inci Yilmazli
Every year, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, Double Seventh Festival is celebrated in China. This festival is considered as the Valentine’s Day for Chinese. It usually falls on August and this year, in 2013, it will be celebrated on August 13.
The love story behind the Double Seventh Festival is about Niu Lang and Zhi Nu (weaving girl). Niu Lang was a single, herd-boy who had to live with his brother and sister-in-law because his parents were dead. His sister-in-law never treated him well, always made him feel like he’s not welcome in their house and Niu Lang had to leave the house with one cow. He was all alone. One day, the cow miraculously told him that the next day was the seventh day of the seventh month which is the day that seven fairies come down to earth and have a bathe. The cow also said that the youngest of the fairies, Zhi Nu, was the cleverest one and if he could hide her clothes while she’s bathing, she would be his wife.
The next day, Niu Lang went to the river and hid until the fairies came down. Then he got out where he was hiding and took the clothes of Zhi Nu. When the fairies saw him, six of them flew back to heaven and left Zhi Nu behind. She was startled in the river. Niu Lang told her that he would give her clothes back if she agrees to marry him. She did. They got married and have two kids, a son and a daughter. However, the Queen Mother of the heaven was not happy with this. Later, the Queen forced Zhi Nu to come back to heaven. As she was going back to heaven, Niu Lang and his kids started to chase her. The Queen Mother separated the two lovers with a billowing river. They couldn’t do anything. They were separated and crying for each other. The magpies saw the love of these two lovers for each other and hundreds of them flew and formed a magpie bridge for them to be able to get together. The Queen Mother couldn’t do anything but allow the two lovers to get together every seventh day of the seventh month.
From then on, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, young girls wear nice and new clothes and pray to find their Niu Lang and have a happy marriage. That’s how the Pray-for-Cleverness Ceremony started.
In big cities of China, young people favor the Western Valentine’s Day, however, the legend of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu is still remembered and passed from one generation to another.