2013 Qixi Festival in China 中国的七夕节
Magpie Festival/Qixi Festival, also known as Magpie Festival, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar. It falls on 13th August in 2013.
Magpie Festival/Qixi Festival comes from the ancient story of Niulang and Zhinv:
A young cowherd named Niulang, came across seven fairy sisters bathing in a lake. Encouraged by his mischievous companion the ox, he stole their clothes and waited to see what would happen. The fairy sisters elected the youngest and most beautiful sister Zhinv to retrieve their clothing. She agreed to do so, but since Niulang had seen her naked, she agreed to his request for marriage. She proved to be a wonderful wife, and Niulang to be a good husband. They lived happily and had two children. But the Goddess of Heaven found out that Zhinv, a fairy girl, had married a mere mortal. The Goddess was furious and ordered Zhinv to return to heaven. On Earth, Niulang was very upset that his wife had disappeared. Suddenly, his ox began to talk, telling him that if he killed it and put on its hide, he would be able to go up to Heaven to find his wife. Crying bitterly, he killed the ox, put on the skin, and carried his two beloved children off to Heaven to find Zhinv. The Goddess discovered this and was very angry. Taking out her hairpin, the Goddess scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers forever, thus forming the Milky Way between Altair and Vega.
Zhinv must sit forever on one side of the river, sadly weaving on her loom, while Niulang watches her from afar and takes care of their two children.
But once a year all the magpies in the world would take pity on them and fly up into heaven to form a bridge (鹊桥, "the bridge of magpies", Que Qiao) over the star Deneb in the Cygnus constellation so the lovers may be together for a single night, which is the seventh night of the seventh moon.
In the bygone days, Qixi was for girls and families. It is also known as the "Praying for Skills Festival" or "Daughters' Festival" or "Praying for children' health Festival".
In the past, girls would conduct a ceremony to beg Zhinu (the most beautiful and skilled seamstress fairy) for wisdom, dexterity and a satisfying marriage in the future.
Nowadays, the Qixi Festival is also called Chinese Valentine's Day. More and more young people celebrate it in the same way that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in western countries.