Chinese Festivals - Chihsi (Chinese Valentine)

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On the evening of the seventh day of the seventh month on the Chinese lunar calendar, look carefully at the sky and you will, weather permitting, see the Cowherd (a bright star in the constellation Aquila, west of the Milky Way) and the Weaving Maid (the star Vega, east of the Milky Way) appear closer together than at any other time of the year.

The Chinese believe these stars are lovers. A legend tells how the Weaving Maid, the seventh daughter of the Jade Emperor, fell in love with and married a cowherd. However, they were overindulgent in their love and forgot their farming and weaving duties, which angered the Jade Emperor. He exiled and separated them on opposite banks of the Silver River (Milky Way), allowing them to meet each other only once a year on Chihsi, or the night of the double seventh (seventh month and seventh day), on a bridge formed by magpies.

The Brash and the Fair

Another legend is more romantic. It holds that an orphaned cowherd was mistreated by his elder brother and sister-in-law, and that they gave him an old ox and chased him out. The cowherd worked hard, and after only a couple of years he owned a small farm and house. He was lonely, however, with only the company of that faithful old ox.

One day the ox suddenly opened its mouth and talked, telling the cowherd that the heavenly Weaving Maid and her sisters were going to bathe in the Silver River and that he should go there to rob the Weaving Maid of her clothes while she was in the water. In exchange for the return of her clothes, she would become his wife. Surprised, the cowherd willingly fol-lowed the ox's instruc-tions and hid himself in the reeds at the river-bank, waiting for the girls to bathe.

The girls did come as foretold. As they were splashing about and having fun, the cowherd rushed out of the reeds and grabbed the Weav-ing Maid's clothing. In panic, the sisters dashed to their clothes, hur-riedly put them on, and ran away. The Weaving Maid, deprived of her clothes, stood on the riverbank and tried to cover herself with her hair as best as possible. The cowherd told her that he would not return her clothes unless she promised to be his wife. After a little hesitation and with a mixture of shyness and eagerness, she agreed to his request and they married.

The Jade Emperor at long last learned of the elopement, and in anger he punished them as described in the first legend. If it rains on the night of the double seventh, the time the two lovers meet on the magpie bridge, women on earth used to lament that "our elder sister is crying again." The raindrops are considered the tears of the Weaving Maid.

 

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✍: Bernado Tuso

2022-01-09, 582👍, 0💬