Chinese Valentine’s Day
Today it is the Qixi Festival, also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day. This festival is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar and this year that happens to be today!
As it usually happens, there are several variations of the legend that started this festivity, but all of them revolve around a couple who couldn’t be together, of course. The earliest mention to this myth appears in the Classic of Poetry (诗经), a compilation of poems from 11 to 7th century BC. This is one of the most famous legends, brought to you by wikipedia:
A young cowherd, hence Niulang (牛郎; literally: “cowherd”), came across a beautiful girl—Zhinü (织女; literally: “weavergirl”), the Goddess’s seventh daughter, who had just escaped from boring heaven to look for fun. Zhinü soon fell in love with Niulang, and they got married without the knowledge of the Goddess. Zhinü proved to be a wonderful wife, and Niulang to be a good husband. They lived happily and had two children. But the Goddess of Heaven (or in some versions, Zhinü’s mother) found out that Zhinü, a fairy girl, had married a mere mortal. The Goddess was furious and ordered Zhinü to return to heaven. On Earth, Niulang was very upset that his wife had disappeared. Suddenly, his ox began to talk, telling him that if he killed it and put on its hide, he would be able to go up to Heaven to find his wife. Crying bitterly, he killed the ox, put on the skin, and carried his two beloved children off to Heaven to find Zhinü. The Goddess discovered this and was very angry. Taking out her hairpin, the Goddess scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers forever, thus forming the Milky Way between Altair and Vega. Zhinü must sit forever on one side of the river, sadly weaving on her loom, while Niulang watches her from afar while taking care of their two children. But once a year all the magpies in the world would take pity on them and fly up into heaven to form a bridge so the lovers may be together for a single night, which is the seventh night of the seventh moon.
So, no wonder today on the way to and from work I saw a lot of guys with bouquets, and many people selling flowers!
In our office, the conversation was like this:
Brazilian guy (married to a Chinese girl): Today is also Valentine’s Day?? Man, I have to buy gifts so many times a year!! On the normal Valentine’s, on the Brazilian Valentine’s (which is in July) and now also on Chinese Valentine’s!
Me: What happens if you don’t buy any gifts?
Brazilian guy: I don’t want to know!!
French guy: But the gift duty is only from guys to girls, it is so unfair!
Indeed, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse for encouraging people to spend money on their loved ones! This happens in every country and of course in China, where even Singles’ Day (11/11) has become the Day that Taobao Breaks Selling Records Every Year.
But, apart from the married and in-a-relationship guys who where not very happy today, there was another collective that was feeling even more miserable: the single guys. You know, Chinese young people have a lot of pressure to get married right after they finish their studies, but as they usually have no dating experience whatsoever, it can be hard sometimes. These single guys call themselves 单身狗 (single dogs) and they composed a song that reads like this (you have to sing it with the Jingle Bells tune):
Single dog, single dog, single all the day.
See AV*, hit the plane**, they’re doing all the day.
Single dog, single dog, why not be a gay?
No more wait, no more afraid, make him be a gay!
**Hit the plane (打飞机): Chinese slang for masturbate.
Yes, the song that my dear colleagues and developer partners shared with me was in English. They really should have had someone proofreading it before posting it all over wechat and qq (Chinese instant messaging)! Besides, I don’t understand why they think being gay in China would be any easier!
Happy Chinese Valentine’s Day! And please don’t call yourself dog if you are single!