Festival/Holiday – Chinese

Chinese Valentine’s Day

The 7th daughter of the Emperor of Heaven and a cowherd fell in love; the emperor was enraged that his goddess daughter fell for a lowly human. As a result, he separated the two lovers and were only given one day a year to meet—the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. The two lovers’ story actually begins with an ox that the cowherd was tending to. The ox was actually a god who was banished from the heavens after he committed certain crimes. The ox led the cowherd to a brook, where the emperor’s seven daughters were bathing. The cowherd fell in love with the youngest, and to keep her from returning to heaven, he stole her clothes. Without her magical clothing, she could not return to heaven with her sisters. The cowherd told the goddess that he would not return her clothes unless she agreed to be with him; because he was handsome, she agreed and fell in love with him. A few years later, the emperor demanded that his daughter be found and returned to her home in heaven; after he found her, he put her on a star so that she could not escape again. The cranes who saw all of this happening felt sorry for the two lovers, so they decided to help the goddess and the cowherd. On the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, millions of cranes gathered to form a bridge for the two to be together again, even if it was just for one day.

I was told this story by my Chinese teacher when it was asked if Chinese people celebrate Valentine’s Day. She said that Valentine’s Day, specifically February 14th, is not normally celebrated by more traditional Chinese immigrants. Rather, spouses or couples will celebrate their love for one another on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. Before she told us this story, my teacher explained that Chinese people are more shy and hesitant about revealing information about their personal relationships. In addition, Chinese parents are also stricter about dating when it comes to their own children. Chinese parents tend to analyze their child’s partner; this relates to the story because the goddess’ father would not allow her to be with a mere mortal. He even went so far as to break them apart and break his daughter’s heart because he felt so strongly about the relationship.
My teacher also told us some legends that are related to this story. One legend that exists is about the weather; it is said that rain is especially frequent around Chinese Valentine’s Day. Chinese people claim that this is because the goddess and the cowherd are shedding tears because they have to separate after only a few hours together. Another legend that exists about Chinese Valentine’s Day includes the cranes that gather each year to help bring the goddess and the cowherd back together. It is said that it is very rare to see a crane on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in Asia. This is because all of them are gathering together in the Milky Way to build a bridge for the cowherd. Another legend that is told to reiterate the story is the fact that cranes have much fewer feathers on their heads than they do anywhere else. Not only this, but it is said that the feathers are especially few after Valentine’s Day in China.