Tonight, if you look up at the sky, you might be able to spot two stars that originated with a pair of truly star-crossed lovers: the “Weaving Maid and the Cowherd.” Today’s Qixi Festival celebrates their origin myth.
According to the Han Dynasty-era story, an oxherd, Niulang, with the help of his ox, married a fairy, Zhinü, who became a weaver girl. When Zhinü’s mother, an empress, discovered her daughter had married a mortal, she returned Zhinü to heaven. Niulang pursued Zhinü using the magic of the ox’s hide. To keep the lovers apart, the empress slashed across the sky, forming a Heavenly River of stars known as The Milky Way.
Niulang and Zhinu became the stars Altair and Vega, which come closest together on the Qixi Festival. So the tale goes, magpies were allowed to form a bridge for the lovers to meet once a year on the seventh night of the seventh lunar month in the Chinese lunar calendar.
As Zhinü was a weaver, tradition dictates you can show your loved ones you appreciate them today with handmade gifts like scarves or hats!
Happy Qixi Festival 2017!
Doodle by Sophie Diao