The Qixi Festival, a traditional celebration celebrated in Taiwan, Singapore, and other regions of Asia based on a sappy mythology, is the subject of today’s Google Doodle. It is also referred to as the Magpie Festival, the Night of the Sevens, and the Double Seventh Festival.
On the lunar calendar, it is observed on the seventh day of the seventh month. On this day, singles and couples exchange presents like sweets and roses with people they find romantically appealing.
Ancient Chinese people used to worship the stars, and they observed Niulang (or Altair, the oxherd), and Zhinü (or Vega, the weaver maiden), meeting in the sky on the double seventh. The romantic legend centres on an oxherd and fairy who, despite their differences, fell head over heels in love. In the tale, Zhinü made the unapproved decision to remain on Earth and took on the identity of a weaver girl.
When the queen mother of the heavens found out about their union, she made Zhinü go back. Then, before the queen banished him back to Earth, Niulang flew into the skies above with their two children to save his wife. The Milky Way was then formed between the Earth and the heavens with her hairpin. The universe was touched by the couple’s grief. The queen gave permission for the family to reunite on the double seventh via a bridge of magpies flying over the river after being moved by the utter devastation of their separation.
Origins of the Qixi Festival can be traced back to the Han Dynasty. Traditional practises from the past have included flower-hanging ceremonies honouring oxen, prayer services dedicated to Zhinü, and demonstrations of craft talents. Younger generations, who want to celebrate in more straightforward ways, have shown less appreciation for these customs. The story of Niulang and Zhinü, however, continues to have a special place in the hearts of Chinese speakers everywhere.
Happy Qixi Festival!