It’s Valentine’s day! Time to hold your precious loved ones and tell them how much they mean to you.

Every 14th February is Valentine’s day in the west and although in China they have taken this day to their hearts, with the younger generation and young couples, buying gifts, flowers, chocolate and having a good time – China do have their very own Valentine’s day and it is a traditional festival that falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. So let’s take a look at some differences.

The western Valentine’s day on the 14th February is called qíngrén jié (情人节) in Mandarin Chinese.

The Chinese Valentine’s day, does not have a set date on the Western calendar, so each year it will fall on a different day. It is called qīxì jié (七夕节), also known as the Double Seventh festival (because of where it falls on the Chinese lunar calendar).

Do you know the most popular story that is widely accepted to be behind Western Valentine’s Day. It begins with Roman Emperor Claudius II, a pagan, who persecuted Saint Valentine because he was a Christian. Claudius gave Valentine a chance to convert but he did not. Valentine was brave enough to attempt to turn Claudius to Christianity but in vain. So sentenced to death, Valentine was imprisoned. His jailor’s daughter however was dying and through a miracle of faith, Valentine cured and healed his jailor’s daughter. After, Valentine wrote a letter to her and signed it ‘your Valentine’. Since then Valentine was pronounced a saint by the Catholic Church and has become a symbol of love.

‘Qīxī’ celebrates one of China’s four great folktales, ‘The Story of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl’. The mythology of the tale dates back to the Han Dynasty, more than 2600 years ago. It is the romantic story of star-crossed lovers and of forbidden love - Niúláng (牛郎), the ‘cowherd’ on Earth, comes across a beautiful and enchanting fairy called Zhīnǚ (织女). She is the youngest daughter of the heavenly queen and weaves the colourful clouds in the sky, hence she is known as the ‘weaver girl’. Niúláng and Zhīnǚ fall in love and have children but their love is forbidden by the heavenly queen. One day Zhīnǚ is taken back to heaven and Niúláng tries to get her back but the heavenly queen, with the wave of her hairpin, creates the Silver River (the Milky Way Galaxy) to separate Niúláng from Zhīnǚ, mortals from immortals. It is said that on hearing of their love story, the heavenly queen softens her heart and allows on the 7th day of the 7th month for Niúláng and Zhīnǚ to see each other. On this day, a flock of magpies create a bridge over the Silver River to reunite the lovers. You will not see a single magpie on earth today.

So now you know more about Valentine’s Day in China and the West. Have a good a Valentine’s Day.

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