Amazing Kids! Magazine

Qixi Festival: Chinese Valentine’s Day (The Four Ways to Find a Husband)

By Cloe Lamb, age 11, Hong Kong


Today is the seventh day of the seventh month of the Lunar Year.
Bunches of magenta plum blossoms and pink peonies hang from oxen horns;
Lai see1 dangles from wishing trees,
Each representing the wishes of a young girl.
As I reach up to attach my red packet to a low branch,
The cries of my friends ring in my ears:
Happy Qixi Festival!

After breakfast we gather around the kitchen table
Making dumplings filled with meat, vegetables, red dates,
And the occasional copper coin!
We all try to guess which is the red date dumpling,
For whoever does will have good fortune and an early marriage.

Next, my friends and I display our dexterous skills.
Using sweet-smelling fruits, we carve artwork,
Turning the smooth skin of melons
Into exotic flowers, animals, and beautiful birds,
For being able to have good food preparation skills
Is important to secure a husband in the future!

In the afternoon, I join the single women who parade around the town;
Being seen in the town’s Qixi parade is a great way to find a husband.
Each of us holds exactly twenty-four stunning, blue roses,
Representing hopeful love.
I sniff at the sweet scent of the fragrant roses,
Smiling and waving to people as I pass by.

As the sky gets darker, flying lanterns soar up,
Looking magical with glowing, amber flames in them.
At home, I watch Mother prepare the traditional family dinner,
Chopping longans, red dates, and fruit;
Throwing shrimp wontons and pork dumplings into a boiling pot of broth;
And dunking dough sticks in boiling oil.
Eagerly, I help her ladle out the individual bowls of soup
And pour freshly brewed chrysanthemum tea and plum wine.

After dinner, my sister and I demonstrate our sewing skills
By threading needles in the moonlight.
We end the night by dropping our needles into bowls of water,
Hoping that they will float to the top,
For this will give us luck in finding fine husbands.

Above us in the night sky sparkles two brilliant stars,
The lovers, Niulang and Zhinu,
And between them is a third star, symbolizing the bond between the lovers.
Under these auspicious stars, we end the day
By offering fruit, flowers, tea, and face powder to Niulang and Zhinu.
After throwing half of the face powder on the roof,
We distribute the rest amongst ourselves,
For this act will bind us in beauty with Zhinu.

At night as I lie in bed,
I look up at the starry sky, thinking about Niulang and Zhinu’s undying love,
And whisper, “One day, I’ll fall in love, too!”

1Lai see (利是): Chinese red packets, usually used during Chinese New Year.