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Qiaoguo, also called Qixi, is for Lovers

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Holidays and Celebrations

Spring Volume: 2016 Issue: 23(1) page(s): 37

This summer holiday, most often in August, is more than two and a half thousand years old. It always falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. It is the day Zhi Nu, the weaver maiden who some call ‘the fairy from heaven,’ fell in love with Niu Lang, the cowhand. He will farm and she will weave, and they both will remain in love forever. Now happily married, they celebrate that union, and did so in 2015 on August 20th. In 2016 they will celebrate it on August 9th, and in 2017 they will celebrate their marriage on August 28th.

When did they marry and where? This heavenly fairy went to earth and married him there. When the God of Heaven learned she did marry her lover, the cowhand, she wanted her to come back to heaven even though they now live happily together and have for some years; and they have a son and a daughter. This Queen of Heaven now takes action and with a golden hairpin, she scratches a line in the sky making a wide river and separating them forever. Her reasoning, they married without her permission, and she marryied a mere earthly mortal.

The King of the Galaxy has other thoughts. He allows them to meet one night each year, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar Year. To make this happen, he sees to it that all magpies take pity on them and fly up to heaven and form a bridge enabling them to get together.

So on this one night look up and you may see them in heaven. Look at the bright star next to the Milky Way; that is this weaver maiden. The three stars on her other side are her husband and the children. Until this day, he has watched her from afar, but on this day he flies to heaven, crosses that magpie bridge in the Cygnus constellation, and spends the night with her. These lovers are, for this one day, no longer separated. They are together that day with their children.

The Chinese believe this is an important day for all lovers, particularly newlyweds who worship this celestial couple. They know those that do will have a happy marriage; and this holiday shows that this married woman is treasured by her new family. It tells them that fruit, flowers, tea, and face powder are their offerings no more. They know that if it is raining, they are crying in heaven because the rain has swept away their magpie bridge.

You need to know that this festival has many names, some of which include the Double Seventh Festival, the Night of Sevens, the Magpie Festival, the Qixi and the Qiqiao festival. It is an important holiday for Chinese lovers. They need to know that Zhinhu and Niulang share a special snack on this day, a pastry made with fruits and nuts.

So on this evening, young girls like to dress up, set out tea and this fruit and nut treat on a table under a trellis. They also like to put seven threads and seven needles there, and like to thread them quickly and under the moonlight. This is one way they beg for skills in this endeavor. Any girl who can do this quickly and easily will have a happy marriage. Do try your hand at this task and at making these snacks.
Pine Nuts and Walnut Jelly
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts. chopped
1 teaspoon agar agar powder or gelatin softened with 2 Tablespoons tepid water
2 Cups skim milk
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 lettuce leaf
1. Bring two cups of water to the boil, cool it slightly, then add the agar agar or gelatin, and simmer until dissolved.
2. Add both nuts, the milk, and the sugar and simmer until the sugar dissolves, then remove it from the heat and pour it into a mold and allow to cool and set.
3. When ready to serve, remove it from the mold, put the lettuce leaf on a plate, the mold on the leaf, and serve.
Goji Berries and Osmanthus Jelly
1 teaspoon dried osmanthus
1 teaspoon agar agar or gelatin powder
2 Tablespoons goji berries
3 Tablespoons rock sugar
1. Soak the osmanthus for ten minutes in one cup of water
2. Mix agar agar or gelatin with two tablespoons warm water and allow to sit for ten minutes. Then put both into a pot, add the sugar and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, then add the goji berries and simmer for five minutes more before pouring into individual glasses and allow to set. refrigerate until served.

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