Myth – China

“So once upon a time there was a young man, who lived from just like farming and like chopping wood and selling it. So he’s pretty poor. But, and then his parents died when he was really young, but everyone around him, like his neighbors and things all love him because he is kind and he is like pretty good looking too. Well, that shouldn’t be a reason. Um, and then so like one day, a really beautiful girl just appeared out of nowhere. And they ended up falling love. Um… and then they got married, and they began living a very happy life. And then like one day some soldiers, heavenly looking soldiers. And came out of nowhere and said they had to take the girl back, like his wife. So the girl ended up being a fairy from the heavenly temple and like in heavenly rules normal people are not allowed to marry heavenly goddesses. They were so in love when the girl got taken back. By then they already have 2 kids, and so like the queen of the heavenly temple heard their story and basically felt sorry for them. So she set up a day like ‘qi xi’ (? ?) ‘the seventh day of the seventh month.’ for the boy, I mean the man, to go with his kids to see the goddess and they walk across the milky way to find her. Its like a ‘niu lang zhi nu’ (? ? ? ?) story. ‘Niu lang’ is the guy. People call him that because he owns a cow and his main job is farming, which is what the phrase means. And they call the girl ‘zhi nu’ because after she married him her job was to weave at home. ‘Zhi’ means to weave. It’s actually a really sad story. And once a year they actually celebrate that day. Even now. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day now.”

Teng learned this story from her grandmother when she was around five years old. She remembers specifically that it was on that day (the seventh day of the seventh month) that her grandmother told her the story behind the day. Her grandmother resides in China, where Teng said that her grandmother learned the story from. Teng was born in China herself and lived there until she was nine years old. As a result, her grandmother often told her stories behind certain Chinese culture and traditions.

Teng said that she would tell other people this story when the subjects of the story are relevant to the conversation, like Chinese festivals, Valentines Day, and old stories, but most likely on the day the story takes place (? ?). However, she said that the target audience would probably be the younger generation because adults probably already know this story. Teng forgot to take into account that probably only Chinese adults that are familiar with the story. I assume that the story would probably be more spread amongst the Chinese community and those interested in Chinese culture. However, Teng also said that she could tell it to one person or a big group.

Teng thinks that this story is especially sad story of torn lovers. It is a very melodramatic and tragic love story between the godly and the ungodly. To her, it is an unrealistic version of love that influences the modern materialistic world to value love more than the superficial things in life. She said that Chinese culture is also very similar in that romanticism is often thought of as important, despite the general population being attracted to material possessions in the global society.

Stories of star-crossed lovers are popular in all cultures. This story in particular draws on the class distinctions between a man and a goddess. Translated into real life, the goddess was probably just a female of higher rank. The story reveals that in Chinese past, marriage customs stated that the woman had to marry someone of equal or higher rank. By having the goddess being forcibly separated from her husband, it shows that the Chinese are rigid in following particular rules dictating social behavior.

The fact that the Chinese celebrate this day as a holiday opens up two possibilities. Either they created the story to explain the holiday away, or they created the holiday after the story. I think that the story is probably loosely based off of true events that have been exaggerated through time. Because the story has been around for so long, I think that it permeated Chinese culture to the point, where it was necessary to designate the day a holiday.