Today may be a common day for most of you, but for Chinese people, it has special meanings. It is the Double Seventh Festival, which is considered the Chinese Valentine’s Day. There’s a beautiful but sad story behind.
Long ago, there was a boy, clever, diligent and honest. Orphaned at an early age, he was very poor. However, he adopted an abandoned old buffalo, which proved to be very loyal and helped him a lot. The two enjoyed a good relationship so villagers came to know him by the name of the Cowherd.
At the same time, the youngest of the seven celestial princesses had grown tired of the secluded life in the heavenly palace. She longed for a mundane life she often saw down beneath her. That was a very pervert idea to cherish in heaven. Yet, determined to pursue her own happiness, she sneaked out and descended onto the earth and to the sudden happiness of the Cowherd with whom she had fallen in love.
They married and had a lovely boy and a girl. While the Cowherd worked in the fields with his old pal the buffalo, the heavenly princess weaved at home to help support the family. Villagers all admired her excellent weaving skill. She was now well-known as the Weaving Girl.
The family lived peacefully and happily until the girl‘s celestial royal family found her missing and traced her to the village. (By the way, it is popularly believed that a day in heaven accounts for years on the earth. The years she had spent with the Cowherd was but a day or so by the celestial calendar.)
The Celestial Empress was in such a wrath that she gave her daughter only two choices: to go back home or see her husband and children destroyed. She had no choice but to leave.
The old buffalo suddenly began to speak to the astonished young man, saying that he was dying in no time and asking him to use his hide as a vehicle to catch up with his wife. And off he sailed to heaven taking his young son and daughter in two baskets.
Fearing that the young man would catch up, the empress took out her hair spin and drew a big river across the sky, known to the Chinese as the Silvery River (the Milky Way in the West). She wanted to separate the family forever.
However, all the magpies in the world, deeply touched by the story, came to their rescue. Each year, on the seventh day of the seventh month, they would flock together to form a bridge so that the family may enjoy a brief reunion.
The day, 7th July of lunar calendar, became a traditional festival as the story hands down. And impressed by the story, a famous poet in Song Dynasty named Qin Guan wrote a beautiful poem for them:
Clouds float like works of art;
Stars shoot with grief at heart.
Across the Milky Way the Cowherd meets the Maid,
When autumn’s Golden Wind embraces Dew of Jade,
All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade.
Their tender love flows like a stream;
This happy date seems but a dream.
Can they bear a separate homeward way?
If love between both sides can last for age,
Why need they stay together night and day?
Every human will die and every story will be forgetten someday, but the pursuit for love and freedom will never fade.
Happy Chinese Valentine’s Day to everyone and hope the world would be just like the old saying, all shall be well, and Jack shall have Jill.