Chinese Valentine’s Day: Feast of the Double Sevens (Qixi Jie 七夕節)

According to the Chinese lunar calendar, yesterday was the Feast of the Double Sevens, also known as Qixi Jie (七夕節). It’s known as the double sevens because it occurs on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It’s great to be Chinese because there’s more than one Chinese Valentine’s Day! (see Chinese Valentine’s Day)

Apparently, it is on this day that you can see the Milky Way dividing the sky from north to south, with two bright stars, one on each side of the vast celestial divide. I don’t know. I’m guessing this can only be seen in the Northern hemisphere? There’s just too much light pollution here in Singapore, and I’m guessing, because we’re near the equator, there’s a lot of things that we can’t see from here even if the sky was pitch dark.

Anyway, the bright star on each side of the Milky Way are named, “The Cowherd,” and “The Weaver Maid.”According to tradition, there was this cow herder who lived on his own, making a living herding cattle. One day, a fairy from heaven (the Weaver Maid) fell in love with him, came down to earth and both of them got married (secretly without Heaven knowing about it – Chinese deities are not omniscient). They lived a very happy and simple life. One was herding cows, while the other was weaving textiles.

One day, the Goddess of Heaven (the Weaver Maid’s mother) found out about the marriage, was angry, and she seized the Weaver Maid and brought her back to Heaven. The Cowherd couldn’t bear to leave his beloved wife, and so, with the help of a celestial cow (HOLY COW!), the Cowherd flew to chase after his beloved wife, hoping to rescue her back. I don’t know how he got his celestial cow, but he must have been a damn good cowherder to herd one down from heaven – that’s one awesome cow herder! The Cowherd almost caught up with the goddess. Not wanting the Cowherd to get hold of her daughter, the goddess used her magical hairpin and, in one stroke, drew up a HUUUUUUGE celestial river (what we call the Milky Way) to separate the Cowherd from them, stopping him from rescuing his wife.

The Cowherd and the Weaver Maid were forever separated by this great celestial gulf. But because the two of them had such a great love for each other, a group of magpies were so touched that they came to the aid of the Cowherd (not only does he controls cows and heavenly cows, he now has power of birds! This is like some epic dude – so epic that even the daughter of a goddess would be so attracted to him – you can’t get more epic than that!). The magpies formed a staircase to allow the Cowherd to climb over the celestial gulf to the other side to see his beloved wife. The Weaver Maid’s mother was soooooo touched by the whole thing, she permitted the two lovers to see each other every year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month.

And that’s the love story behind the Feast of the Double Sevens! In commemoration of such deep love and touching love that the two have for each other, Chinese since the time of the Han dynasty have been commemorating it very much like a Chinese version of Valentine’s Day.

Yup! That’s the story! Cool, yeah?

Anyway, The Girlfriend and I decided that we should do something special on the Feast of the Double Sevens. We’ve not done anything super romantic in a while. In fact, life has been pretty ordinary, we’d walk around school, eat together, and even watch TV together and give our own funny commentaries of what’s going on (in the words of The Girlfriend’s mum, she said: “You two are like uncle and auntie lah!” (for non-Singlish speakers, it means: you two are like an elderly cranky couple watching TV).

So what did we do? Well, our day started with breakfast! The Girlfriend came over to my place and I cooked her an epic breakfast – scrambled eggs, bacon, a grilled tomato seasoned in herbs and black pepper, and toasted walnut bread and butter! YUM!

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After that, we headed to school. Today wasn’t exactly a good day to celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day. She had lessons from 10am to 6+pm, while I had work and lessons from 12pm to 8+pm. By the time we were all done, it was really REALLY late. Finding a nice place to eat dinner was also a chore. By the time we were trying to find a place to eat, it was already 9+pm. That’s the time where it’s a gamble! You simply don’t know if the eating places you want to go to are open or not.

Well, we eventually found a fusion Japanese-Western restaurant at Bugis that was opened. I initially wanted to bring her to another place with really good pasta, but they were closed by the time we reached. We had to settle for something else.

While waiting for the food to come, we exchanged gifts!

The Girlfriend made me a handmade card!

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I really loved just how she cut out the word love (愛 ai). It’s really difficult to do something like that, and it requires a LOOOOT of time just to cut it. It’s pretty amazing just how well she’s able to cut it! I love it! It’s really a labour of love!

I gave her this:

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It’s my first attempt at watercolour painting. I’ve never done it before. I thought I’d just give it a try. Surprisingly, I found my Photoshop skills very relevant here! I never expected it to turn out this well. I’m motivated to do more watercolour painting!

In addition, I got her a little gift to make up for the two mensiversaries (month anniversaries) that we missed while she was away for summer exchange in the US. You see, we agreed to do a little gift exchange every month. However, for some stupid reason, the mail room guys in her residence didn’t deliver my first gift to her (the delivery tracker said it was delivered to her address). No, instead, they rejected it and returned the package to sender. Fearing that the mail room people would do the same stupid thing again, I decided I’ll give her one really epic gift when she’s back.

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What is it? Well, that’s for us to know! You can ask The Girlfriend if you happen to know her. =)

Anyway, we didn’t do very much. It was pretty late, and I had to go back to finish some work that’s due today. (Yes, I know, I should be doing my work now, but I need a break! Blogging is refreshing!) So, we just took a walk around the area just to explore some interesting sights, and that was all.

Though it was a short time together in the evening, it was a nice and romantic time away from the daily hustle and bustle of life. It was really nice. =)