Today is ‘Chinese Valentines Day’ – 七夕節 (mastering the traditional characters here 😉 – which literally means The Night of Sevens, being that it falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, and is traditionally known as the Magpie festival. Back in the day girls would worship and make an offering to the stars. They would also throw a sewing needle into a bowl of water and if it floated, well those ladies got skills! If it sunk, well, that makes two of us, and they best get praying for a husband. I mean, who’s going to accept a woman who can’t sew? Pah! Life was tough back then. The coolest thing about today is that if it rains, (I’ve just moved to Taipei, of course it’ll rain…infact, typhoon is a’coming!) it’s because our sad weaver girl is sobbing for her lover. So, people of Taipei, those rain drops are tears!
OK, now I’m going to tell you the story with the use of some pictures. Ancient Chinese stories ARE actually cool, honestly!
Once upon a time in China there was a boy who looked after oxs. His name was NiuLang-牛郎.
He had been searching high and low for a lady-friend for so long that his face pretty much turned to sky.
On another pasture, there was a weaver girl. She was desperate to find a lover-boy, so she spent her days sewing a heart so she could give it to that special someone…wherever he may be…Her name was ZhiNu.
Did I mention that ZhiNu lived in Heaven? Well, she did. And one day she decided to jump down to earth to have a little fun. Boys in Heaven were boring. She just happened to land in a field of emerald, on top of NiuLang. And of course, it was love at first sight. She gave him her heart.
They ran off to his tree house and two magical babies were born and they lived…
…or did they? Intrigue…
It just so happened that the Goddess of Heaven-probably ZhuNi’s Mum- had been spying the entire time from her dark cloud (CREEP!) and was furious that her fairy (oh yeah, forgot to mention that too. ZhuNi is a fairy!) had married a repulsive mortal. And a farm boy nonetheless. She swooped down from the thundering sky and tore the lovers apart. ZhuNi was taken back home and made to sit and weave multicoloured clouds all day long, forever and ever.
At least she was making the world pretty. But it didn’t matter to NiuLang. He just wanted his sweetheart back. As he sat moping under a tree, as he did everyday these days, his ox began to talk. Yup. He said “NiuLang, dude, just slaughter me. Apparently if you wear my skin you’ll be able to fly and go get your girl back. Do it bro!” Thus, ox was no-more.
Ah, poor guy. And it was all for nothing because Miss-I-ruin-all-the-fun-and-love-in-the-world, grabbed her sharpest hair pin and ripped the sky in half. Voila- the Milky-Way!
It’s pretty isn’t it! But it doesn’t really help our two love-birds.
Nor does the fact that back in ye olden days, no-one had invented this stuff. So they just cried and moped and stared longingly at each other from opposite sides of the universe. However, it’s not all gloomy. One day the King of the Magpies was flying past and took note of the situation. He got all his kingdom of lil magpies in on the business and they decided to sort this out. Lovers shouldn’t be apart. Love is awesome. So, they made a bridge. Finally, NiuLang and ZhiNu the fairy, could be reunited.
It’s quite a magical bridge, isn’t it!
And so, every year on this day, NiuLang and ZhiNu can kiss and play and dance among the stars. So, King Magpie, WHERE’S MY BRIDGE?!
Coincidentally, my friend sent me this photo yesterday because I love Haruki Murakami…
It’s totally NiuLang and ZhiNu. How romantic! And here’s a song for them today…enjoy!
Towers, by Bon Iver. I love this song!