Qixi Festival, also known as Double Seventh Festival, Qiqiao Festival, and Qiaojie Hui, is a traditional Chinese festival. As a romantic festival, what are the traditional customs of Qixi Festival? Let's take a look together.
Needle threading to beg for skill
Needle threading to beg for skill has been a Qixi Festival activity since the Han Dynasty. Threading a needle on a moonlit night requires speed, accuracy, and skill, making it a highly difficult task. In folk culture, there is also a special horticultural way of begging for skill, which is to grow "skill sprouts." Before Qixi Festival, people cultivate bean sprouts or wheat sprouts, and during the festival, women bring their carefully cultivated works to offer to the Qiao Niang Niang (Goddess of Skill), while everyone judges and sees whose skill sprouts are stronger and healthier, and whoever wins will get the skill. This is a competition of planting skills, and a recognition of women's wisdom and agricultural achievements.
Happy spiders bring along the skill
This is an earlier way of seeking skill, which originated in the Southern and Northern Dynasties, slightly later than needle threading.
The Five Dynasties' "Kaiyuan Tianbao Yishi" says, "On the Qixi Festival, people catch spiders in small boxes and open them at dawn. They judge the skill based on the density of the spider webs. If the web is dense, it means the one is with a lot of skills, and if it is sparse, it means the one is with little skills. " Song Dynasty's "Dongjing Menghua Lu" by Meng Yuanlao says, on the Qixi Festival, "put a small spider in a box, and the next day, if the web is round and regular, it is considered a sign of the one is with lots of skills."
From this, it can be seen that the methods of testing skills have been different throughout history. In the Tang Dynasty people looked at the density of the webs, and in the Song Dynasty people looked at the roundness and regularity of the webs. Later generations mostly followed the Tang customs.
Worship the Zhinü (Goddess of Weaving)
Worshiping the Zhinü is a big event for women. They usually pre-arrange with five or six friends or neighbors, up to ten people, to hold the ceremony together. The ceremony is to set up a table under the moonlight, with offerings such as tea, wine, fruits, and "wuzi" (dried longan, red dates, hazelnuts, peanuts, and melon seeds), as well as a few fresh flowers, tied with red paper and placed in a small vase, with a small incense burner in front of the flowers.
On Qixi Festival, women who have arranged to worship the Zhinü fast for a day, bathe and dress up, and arrive at the host's home on time. After burning incense and worshiping at the table, everyone sits around the table, eating peanuts and melon seeds, and silently making wishes towards the Star Vega.
Worship the Kui Xing (Deity of Examinations)
According to folklore, the Qixi Festival is also the birthday of Kui Xing. Students who wish to achieve academic success will worship Kui Xing on this day and pray for good luck in their exams. In ancient times, the top scholar was called "the great Kui scholar of the world" or "the winner of the Kui prize" because the Kui Xing was in charge of exam luck.
Eating Qiao Guo
The food customs of the Qixi Festival vary from place to place, but are generally referred to as Eat Qiao Shi, which includes dumplings, noodles, deep－fried dough stick, wontons, and more. Eating Yun noodles, which are made with dew, is believed to bring good luck. There are also many folk pastry shops that like to make some crispy candies painted the appearance of Zhinü, commonly known as "Qiao Ren" or "Qiao Su". This custom has been passed down in some areas till now.
Sunning the clothes and books
In ancient times, there was a custom of sunning the clothes and books on the Qixi Festival. People chose to sun their clothes and books on Qixi Festival because the sun is strong on this day, which is also the day when the King of Dragon "sunned his scales". People often sun their clothes and quilts on this day to prevent insect damage. Students also often sun their books on this day. The Eastern Han Dynasty's Cui Shi's "Four Seasons and Customs" says, "On the Qixi Festival, expose the scriptures and clothes, and they will not be moth-eaten."