The origin behind The Qixi Festival

This piece folklore was gathered at the San Fransisco trauma recovery center. I met with a group of social workers and over the course of one hour we all got came together in a meeting room and in one big group we decided to go around the table and each discuss folklore from their lives. At the beginning of the discussion I gave a brief description about what folklore could be. After that everyone shared pieces of folklore from their lives.

“So a long time ago there was a very poor cowboy who was a really nice person and worked really hard in the farms and one day from heaven came down seven fairies. They were the seven daughters of the heavenly father and the heavenly mother. The daughters came down and they really enjoyed what they saw on earth and they played around and had a lot of fun. One of them, the youngest of the siblings, the youngest fairy noticed this cowboy who was very hardworking and she fell in love with him immediately. When all her sisters went back into heaven after that random visit she stayed married to this cowboy and they had an old tree as witness of their marriage and lived very happily. Not ever after though. They had two kids and were very happy however eventually this news went to the heavenly mother shepherd about this and she got really really upset because it was against the heavenly rule that very cant marry earthly men so she came down to get her daughter to take her back to the heavens. This was very, very sad for the cowboy and for the whole family. The cowboy tried to catch them while the heavenly mother was trying to take the daughter away and the heavenly mother noticed that she drew a river to stop the cowboy from catching them and that river ended up actually becoming The Milky Way.”

Background information about the performance from the informant: One well know Chinese festival or holiday which you don’t get work off for but is very popular is July the seventh which is called The Qixi Festival or Chinese Valentine’s Day. The origin of it is from this sad story. The day that the mother took the daughter away was July the seventh and that story became the foundation of Chinese Valentine’s Day. And only on this day can the cowboy and his kids reunite with his wife.”

Final Thoughts: “The fact that this holiday is referred to as Chinese Valentines Day is interesting in itself because it implies the holiday is some sort of offshoot of the american holiday when in reality it is much older. The story behind the festival works as a creation myth. The story both explains why Chinese people should celebrate the festival and also serves to explain the origin for an important piece astrological image.”

Annotation: If you want to learn more about the original myth of the Weaver Girl and The Cowherd read Idema, Wilt L. (2012). “Old Tales for New Times: Some Comments on the Cultural Translation of China’s Four Great Folktales in the Twentieth Century” (PDF). Taiwan Journal of East Asian Studies. 9 (1): 25–46.