On the 7th day of the 7th month of Chinese Lunar Calendar, lovers throughout China celebrate Qixi day, also known as the Chinese version of Valentine’s day. This year, it falls on August 20, and it’s a day for attached Chinese around the world to share smooches and whisper sweet nothings.
The legend behind the holiday has its origins in ancient China in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), and has lived on ever since. It begins with a beautiful Chinese weaver, Zhi Nu, who was the youngest daughter of the goddess of heaven and a poor orphaned cowherd named Niu Lang.
The cowherd watched over an ox, who was actually a spirit sent to Earth by the goddess as punishment for his sins. The ox told Niu Lang that he could find the love of his life if he went to the riverbank, where the goddess’ seven daughters were bathing. The daughters had taken off their clothes and left their magical robes on the bank. The cowherd stole one of the dresses which belonged to Zhi Nu and this prevented her from flying back to heaven with her sisters.
It was love at first theft. Niu Lang approached Zhi Nu and asked for her hand in marriage and the two married and lived happily and even had two children.
When the goddess learned that her daughter married a mortal without her consent, she stole her daughter back to heaven and forced her to weave clouds and rainbows. The devastated Niu Lang heeding the advice of the ox, set off on a journey to heaven to get his wife back.
Learning of his act, the goddess took out a hairpin and scratched a line in heaven that separated them from each other. This line later became known as the Milky Way, which prevented the two lovers from crossing to be with each other. The two stars Altair and Vega are said to be Niu Lang and Zhi Nu.
Zhi Nu continued to weave clouds and rainbows every day while the Niu Lang sat across the Milky Way waiting for her and taking care of their children.
After many years passed, some magpies — moved by their devotional love — gathered together to form a bridge that would allow them to meet each other on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, also known as the Double Seven Festival.
During this festival, children, especially young girls, visit the temple as a pray for wisdom in choosing a spouse. Some communities even have handicraft competitions, including contests for girls to thread needles in a dark room. Other customs include place offerings with fruit, tea and flowers in honor of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu’s devotion.
The festival is cherished by Chinese newlyweds as well, who show their affection for each other and hope for children.
Here are some of those sweet nothings that Weibo users have shared about their loved ones during the Qixi festival:
* “I can’t breathe without you.” —HHHONY
* “There are those moments of life that I’ll always remember. Not because they were important, but because you were there with me.” —Zuozuo_Wang
* “Whatever happens, I’ll love you. Day: 570.” —Mangoliu
* “My only habits in this world are delicious food and you.” —LDHF
* “I love you just like a mouse loves rice.” (based on a popular song) —huanchengbanni
* “Why do I like you even though you are far away? Because you shine like a star.” —xiaobai_Missmilk_
And then there’s Bon Jovi (aka Bang Qiaowei):
Musician Bon Jovi recorded this version of an old 1970s Chinese love song in honor of Qixi: “The moon is my heart.”
Xiaolu Sun contributed to this report.