A cheeky mortal named Niu Lang steals the clothes of Zhi Nü, a heaven-dwelling weaver girl, while she is bathing on Earth. Rather than simply demanding her clothes back, Zhi agrees to stay on earth and marry Niu.
When The Goddess of Heaven discovers that Zhi has abandoned her duties of weaving clouds and rainbows, she is furious, and summons Zhi Nü back to heaven, leaving a distraught Niu Lang on Earth with his two half-mortal children.
With the help of his cow friend’s magical skin, Niu Lang finds a way up to heaven. The Goddess of Heaven won’t let a mortal stay married to Zhi Nü, so she condemns the couple to live on either side of the Milky Way, Niu Lang on the western star Aquila and Zhi Nü on the eastern star Vega.
Taking pity on the couple, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, the Goddess of Heaven has all the magpies in the world fly up to heaven to build a bridge so Niu Lang and Zhi Nü can visit each other. Legend also has it that Niu Lang and Zhi Nü can be heard speaking to each other through grape vines.
Here are six Chinese Valentine’s traditions to help you to improve your chances of finding true love. Chinese Valentine’s Day, or Qixi is on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.
1. Single? Pop over to the Temple of the Matchmaker and pray for love. Couples also go there to pray for their future happiness.
2. Show off your arts and craft skills. Chinese girls believe that craftiness is essential for a successful future family, so they pray to the goddess Zhi Nu to increase their skills. They practice carving melons and in some provinces decorate ox’s horns for good luck.
3. Make sure to wash your hair. Shiny hair is meant to bring good luck on this day.
4. Another one for the girls: when the stars are high in the sky, try your luck at floating a needle on water. If it sinks, you’re not mature enough to find a husband; if it floats – you’d better start looking!
5. Stare up at the night sky and see if you can spot the stars Aquila and Vega.
6. Listen for the goddess Zhi Nu speaking to her forbidden lover, Niu Lang, through grapevines.