14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Did you know that China has its own version of Valentine’s Day? Actually there are two traditional festivals in China which are similar to the Western Valentine’s Day!

Qixi Festival (七夕节 – qīxījié)
The Qixi Festival, also known as the Double Seven Festival, takes places on the seventh day of the seventh month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, usually in August according to the Western calendar. This Festival is based on an ancient romantic story about a weaver girl and an ox herd. The lovers, Zhinü and Niulang were forbidden to meet each other. But once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month they were able to meet each other for just one day. It is is recognised as the most romantic traditional festival in China. Traditionally, lovers go visit a match-making temple to pray for a prosperous life ahead.

Lantern Festival (元宵节 – yuánxiāojié)
The Lantern Festival takes place on the 15th day of the first month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, usually in February or March according to the Western calendar. People go out for a date in the evening to enjoy the lantern exhibitions and firework shows. Young girls were usually forbidden to go out in the evening during the ancient time. Only during the Lantern Festival they were allowed to go outside to watch the lanterns.

It is common that each festival has its own typical food item or dish. Almost every household will eat tangyuan (汤圆) during the Lantern Festival. It is a ball-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice flour with a sweet filling inside, such as sugar, peanuts, sesame seeds or red bean paste. Make sure you try it when you are in China during the Lantern Festival!

Nowadays, modern Chinese people living in the urban areas are also celebrating the Western Valentine’s Day on February 14th. They celebrate Valentine’s day by exchanging flowers, cards, chocolates and other gifts instead of following the tradition customs.

How do you say Happy Valentine’s Day in Chinese?
情人节快乐 – qíngrén jié kuàilè

Written by Wing Lam, Intern at China Plus

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