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Legends
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Niu Lang Zhi Nu

Folklore:  

This folktale is titled Niu Lang Zhi Nu and is focused on a man who is a poor, ordinary cow herder and a woman who is a daughter of a goddess. In the story the man and the woman fall in love but their love is forbidden because of their different social statues. To prevent their relationship the woman’s father banishes both to opposites sides of the planet. However the bugs feel pity for the lovers and once every year build a bridge across the planet so they can meet. The day they meet every year is considered the origin of Chinese Valentine’s Day.

Background & Context:

This story was collected in a casual lunch setting. The informant was a 21 year old junior at USC. She is ethnically Chinese but has grown up in New York her entire life. The way she found about this folktale was by watching a popular Chinese drama from several years ago, that is a remake of the tale with the same name.

Final Thoughts:

My thoughts on this tale is that it is tragic and romantic origin story for the Chinese Valentine’s Day. This tale is also similar to other East Asian folktales I have collected. What I also found interesting is how the informant originally heard about the folktale through mass media. I think it is unique and good how the media is teaching the newer generation of old traditional folktales that in the past were passed down through other methods.

Annotation:

For another version of this piece of folklore, see the Chinese television series Niu Lang Zhi Nu.

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