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Qixi festival proposed as China's Valentine's Day

Updated: 2007-08-15 13:07

A Chinese lunar calendar festival celebrating a romantic tale has been proposed as the "Chinese Valentine's Day" to promote awareness of traditional culture.

China's Qixi festival on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, which falls on Saturday this week, is based on an ill-fated love story involving a cowherd and a fairy seamstress.

Niulang, the cowherd, and Zhinv, the fairy, fell in love and later ascended to the heavens becoming two stars separated by the galaxy.

They could only meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, when thousands of magpies form a bridge to allow them to cross the galaxy.

Chinese started to pray for good lives and love on the festival in the middle of Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD).

The proposal was made by scholars and business people at a conference held by the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Society in Beijing.

"With the rapid development of China's economy, traditional Chinese festivals such as Qixi have faded from the memories of many Chinese," said Professor Zhang Yiwu, of Peking University.

The proposal was expected to reawaken the national memory, and was not a challenge to the Western Valentine's Day marked by many younger generation Chinese each February 14.

Although the Qixi festival never celebrated love, said Liu Zongdi, a scholar in folklore studies, romantic folklore was the best way to promote Chinese traditional festivals.

The festival has been listed as an intangible cultural heritage and people in provinces such as Guangdong, Hainan and Fujian have maintained a tradition of celebrating the festival.

In southeast China's Fujian Province, local girls prepare fruit and incense as offerings to Zhinv on Qixi, praying to acquire skill in needlecraft.

In south China's Guangdong Province, girls will prepare handicrafts and cultivate mung beans in small boxes before the festival and pray seven times on the festival night to welcome the fairy.

From: Xinhua News

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