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15 July 2015

Home < About Qixi Festival


2017-08-16 Download Print

The Double Seventh Festival has been celebrated since the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). Unlike St. Valentine's Day in Western countries there is not so much emphasis on giving chocolates, flowers and kisses. Instead, it is an important festival for young girls. Chinese girls prepare fruits, melons and incense as offerings to Zhi Nu, the weaving maiden, praying to acquire high skills in needlecraft, as well as hoping to find satisfactory husbands.


In the evening, people sit outdoors to observe the stars. Chinese grannies would say that, if you stand under a grapevine, you can probably overhear what Zhi Nu and Niu Lang are talking about.  


How Double Seventh Festival Is Celebrated Traditionally

There are many variations in Double Seventh Festival customs across China. The most popular customs include demonstrating domestic skills, worshiping Zhinü the Weaver, celebrating the birthdays of cattle, and making and eating 'skill fruit'.

Pleading for Skills

The most popular custom during the Qixi Festival is women "pleading skills" (demonstrating dexterity) on the evening of the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. Although there are many domestic skills demonstrated across China, some common activities among most young women include threading a needle and carving fruits.

Threading a needle is the longest standing means to "plead skills". The demonstration calls for speedily threading a needle under moonlight. The custom originated from the Han Dynasty and quickly became a widespread required skill for young women to demonstrate.

Young women often carve fruits into exotic flowers, animals, and unusual birds. The most common way to demonstrate dextrous fruit-carving skill is to carve images on the smooth skin of a melon.

Worshiping Zhinü the Weaver Girl

The Double Seventh Day was once given great importance by young women and young married women, who, according to customs passed down by theie elders, followed the custom of worshiping Zhinü(侄女 zhínǚ /jrr-nyoo/ 'brother's daughter / niece').

The activity was organized by sisters (and female cousins). They usually prepared a table with tea, wine, fruits, longans, red dates, hazelnuts, peanuts, and melon seeds.

On the eve of the Double Seventh Day, the young women would sit around the table and display their beautiful needlework to show their skills. They would also watch the Vega constellation, and pray for a good husband and a happy life. After that, they would play games or read poems until midnight.

Honoring Oxen

On the Qixi Festival, children pick bunches of wild flowers and hang them on oxen horns.

The custom of honoring oxen is in honor of the legendary ox, which remembered Niulang's kindness and in gratitude tried to repay it. According to legend, the old ox sacrificed himself and offered its own hide to allow Niulang to fly to heaven and pursue Zhinü. See below.

Making and Eating 'Skill Fruit'

On the day of Qixi, people usually eat skillfully-made snacks (巧果 qiǎo guǒ /chyaoww-gwor/ 'skillful fruit'): fried, thin pastries of different shapes, made from oil, flour, sugar, and honey.

They are cooked as follows:

First put some sugar into a pot and boil it into a syrup, then add flour and sesame seeds, and mix into a dough.

Put the dough on a table, and roll the pastry out until very thin. Cut the pastry into squares and fold them into fusiform shapes (wide in the middle, tapering at he ends). Lastly, fry the pastries until they turn golden yellow.