While Valentine’s Day is on the 14th of February for the rest of the world, China celebrates its version during the Qixi Festival, which falls on 17 August this year. The reason why? A legendary romantic tale that has endured for thousands of years. As with most traditional festivals in China, there is a legend behind the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day (known as “Qixi”), with a long history dating back to an ill-fated love affair between a cowherd and a young goddess during the Han Dynasty. These days “Qixi” is more commercialised and it is usually celebrated in the same manner as Valentine’s Day—with meal, chocolates and flowers.
In conjunction to the Qixi Festival, Monash University Chinese Cultural Society (MUCCS) sold roses to celebrate love. Emphasising that the roses could be bought as a gift for lovers, friends, teachers and even family to help enhance relationships. To further elevate the atmospheres of love, MUCCS members also performed a few melodious songs. You could just feel the love from miles away.
MUCCS also fed our always curious minds with a little bit of history on a traditional wear known as the “Hanfu”. Hanfu, literally ‘Han clothes’, is one of the traditional types of Chinese clothing. It served as the style of clothing for the Han ethnic group for more than three millennia and was outlawed at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. The term “Hanfu” was created in recent years by Internet users to describe this clothing style. When people talk about Hanfu, they usually mean a long flowing robe with loose sleeves and a belt at the waist. In the most literal sense, it refers to the historical dress of the Han people for all of history before the Qing Dynasty, when the Manchus reigned. Hanfus usually feature a loose yi (衣 ‘upper garment’) with sleeves, and a skirt-like shang (裳 ‘lower garment’).
Since Qixi Festival has its own celestial symbols – with the stars Altair and Vega, representing Niulang and Zhinu – you could look up at the night sky on a clear evening on or near Qixi Festival and observe the two heavenly bodies as they make their annual reunion. On the note, Qixi Festival in fact has an interesting mythological background that relates to the stars in the night sky and teaches us to always appreciate the people around us and celebrate love.
Article by Divyah
Photos by Derrick Ser