[ The Seventh Eve ]
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 tend 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 aye,
Why need they stay together night and day?
-Immortal at the Magpie Bridge
by Qin Guan
This poem tells about the tale of a fairy and a peasant, which is said to be the origin of "the Seventh Eve"(the seventh night of the seventh month in lunar calendar)-a folk festival of Chines people.( Click here for details of the story).
The Girl Weaver and A Peasant
It is one of the famous Chinese legend. This story is about the Girl Weaver and A Peasant who named "Lang". They can only see each other once a year, at the day of July the seventh of the Chinese calendar. Now the people called the Vega and the Altair.
Long time ago, when people still believe there were god and goddess in the heaved. When a day in a heaven as the Taoist God. He rules everyone and everything in the heaven and the earth. He has seven daughters. However, he only favors his seventh daughter. She is the most incredible one. She is the most intelligent, the prettiest and has the most skillful weave talent among her other six older sisters. Since she has the most outstanding weave skill, people called her the Girl Weaver. The Girl Weaver love to spend her time with her sisters in the heaven until she was a teenage.
One day, the seven daughters of the Taoist God felt that is bore to stay in the heaven. Therefore, they decided to go down to the heaven for a walk. That was a humid day. When the seven ladies got down to the earth, the first thing they saw was a beautiful pond with clear and cool water, with colorful flowers, singing birds, green and lively grass around. They were attractive by nature, they decide to take a bath in the pond. As they really enjoying their bath, the sky turns to gray and dark, wind blow very strong, and rain like pouring water. The seven ladies realize that is a signal that their father are calling them home. They rush to dress up and flew back to the heaven. However, they lost their youngest sister, the Girl Weaver. Since the wind was si strong, her cloth had been blow to a grass land. When she is saw her cloth back. A young, handsome and strong peasant picked them up and gave her back in a very gentle manner. At this very first second, these two love each other in the first sign. Since then, the Girl Weaver carefully observe this young peasant from the heaven. She found that he is very hard working and honest and named "Lang". He has a cow that it out to the grass land everyday. She discussed her feelings with her older sisters. She decided to go to the earth and marry him. Finally, she married to " Lang".
After they married, Lang goes to the farm, and the Girl Weaver cooks, cleans and weaves. They really enjoy their life. However, the happy moment didn't last for long. The Taoist God finally discovered the Girl Weaver's secret. He was seriously mad. He sent four soldiers to earth this time. When they were trying to guard the Girl Weaver back th the heaven, Lang came home. However, He can not do anything, because the soldiers are very powerful. Suddenly, the cow talks. He said "Take mu horn, it will help you to chase your wife back. Put your kids on the bamboo basket and carry them with you. I was one of the god in the heaven. Because I brook one of the rules, the Taoist God punish me by sent me down to the earth to suffer. Go And Hurry." Lang follow what the cow said. Suddenly, the whether change, a storm was coming. It was very strong that cause a great flood on the earth. They followed the soldiers and calling each other's name. When there was only one feet distance between Lang and the Girl Weaver. The Goddess wave her fade clasp. Suddenly, the rain between the couple brook into two side. Each of the couple like stand on the side of an ocean. Lang's ox horn can't flew to the other side. They separated.
At this moment over a million of birds flew from far and near, they build a bird bridge. This bridge ia long enough and strong enough for Lang to walk onto and catch his wife. The Goddess saw it, and she was impress by the bird and the strong love between her daughter and Lang. Finally, she made an announcement that since the goddess cannot be withe the people on earth. She allowed her daughter, the Girl Weaver and Lang to see each other once a year of today. That was July seven of the Chinese calendar. Also, birds are volunteer to be their bridge for them to see each other.
Since then, Lang and the Girl Weaver meet each other on that day. Therefore, on the seventh day of July of the Chinese calendar, we will hardly see a bird is cruise on the sky or singing on the tree. They are on duty, they need to build the bird bridge. Also, on that day it is always raining. People said that those are the tear of Lang and the Girl Weaver.
This year the Seventh Eve(Qixi in Pinying) is on 17th August. At present, people in China take the day as their daughter's day. In this day, girls talk to each other about their secrets and estimate their future marriage life in various old ways. Lovers may change gifts and promises. This day can be called the Chinese valentine's day.
[ Spring Festival ]
Far and away the most important holiday in China is Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year. The date for this annual celebration are determined by the lunar calendar, so the timing of the holiday(the 1st day of a lunar year)varies from late January to early February.
The festival actually begins on the eve of the lunar New Year's Day and ends on the fifth day of the first month of the lunar calendar, which is called the Lantern Festival.
B. What People Do
Preparations for the New Year begin several days early, when houses are thoroughly cleaned, debts repaid, hair cut and new clothes purchased.
"Guo Nian," meaning "passing the year," is the common term among the Chinese people for celebrating the Spring Festival. It actually means greeting the new year. At midnight at the turn of the old and new year, people used to let off fire-crackers which serve to drive away the evil spirits and to greet the arrival of the new year. In an instant the whole city would be engulfed in the deafening noise of the firecrackers.
On New Year's Eve, all the members of families come together to feast. Jiaozi, a steamed dumpling as pictured below, is popular in the north, while southerners favor a sticky sweet glutinous rice pudding called nian gao.
C. Special Performance
Chinese people love excitement, and Chinese New Year are times of special celebration and joy. Singing and dancing are everywhere. In spite of the heavy influence of Western culture, the various customs and activities accompanying traditional fests and celebrations are still observed with enthusiasm. Many of these folk customs and performances are incorporated into the festival celebrations and competitions held on Chinese New Year and other festivals, and have been passed down from generation to generation. The most common of these are perhaps the dragon dance and lion dance.
D. A Folk Tale
Many consider the Lantern Festival to be the climax of New Year celebrations.
Long ago in China, there was a girl named Yuan Xiao who worked in the palace belonging to Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty, as a lowly servant. Though she was intelligent, full of kindness in her heart and had many friends amongst the servants, she grew very homesick as she was not allowed to leave the palace grounds. A minister called Shuo Dong Fang eventually befriended her. He thought up a clever plan to distract the emperor so that Yuan Xiao could leave the palace secretly and visit her family again.
Shuo excitedly informed the emperor that the Supreme Deity of Heaven had ordered the God of Fire to burn the city of Chang-an to the ground on the 16th day of the lunar year. Shuo also added that the only way to avert this was to set off firecrackers and flood the city streets with red lanterns. And all the palace maids, too, were required to take lanterns and parade in the streets. As if that wasn't enough, Shuo further recommended that the emperor allowed Yuan Xiao to personally present dumplings to the God of Fire; once he was satiated, the city would thus be spared.
So it was that the emperor ordered the city of Chang-an to keep busy that entire night letting off firecrackers and playing with lanterns. Yuan Xiao took advantage of the confusion to run off outside the palace walls and spend the night with her family, sharing with them the imperial dumplings.
E. Tranditions Today
Spring cleaning, home decorations, paying respects, receiving hongbao and all things red: these are part and parcel of Chinese New Year celebrations, each holding special and auspicious significance for the coming year. No wonder members of the older generation are often upset when these traditions are not kept!