To the rest of the world most probably it is just another ordinary day, but in China and most SE Asian countries where Chinese festivals are celebrated, today, the "26th of August 2009" is the Chinese equivalent of St Valentine’s day. More formally it is known in Mandarin as the Qi Xi Festival (translated into "The Night of Sevens"), and falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar; hence its name. Always on a different day every year.
There is no official holiday in China, but let it be known that most restaurants are fully booked well in advance, and all couples (especially the males!) have to make it a commitment for a romantic date, either at home for dinner or outside at a restaurant. State media also have special television shows dedicated with the theme of romance. CCTV1, the national television channel (as well as many local provincial channels as well), air a special Blind date show for young viewers. If you are in China for the first time and are confused at the sight of a large number of couples holding roses in the middle of August, usually red or white; and also if you are unable to get a seat at most good restaurants, then at least I hope now you know the reason why! There are many stories which explain the meaning for this day.
Fond memories of Guangzhou as well, on the banks of the Pearl River where many young (and sadly poor) children roam around with bunches of small Roses in their hands, eagerly looking for any couples to whom they can sell the Rose flowers to. Festivals such as the QiXi are the perfect occasion for these children to make as much profit as possible. As soon as they see any couple approaching, some of the children can even climb onto the people's legs, determined to hold on as tightly as possible until the person buys the flowers from them. It can be a shocking experience for anyone who would not imagine that a young child (maybe under the age of 10) would be so desperate to sell a Rose flower worth only 3RMB (Approx £0.20 pence), that they would not let go of your leg until you pay them money or purchase the flower. It's not nice to see and experience. These children must be under great pressure to make as much money as possible, and maybe they don't even get to keep that money. It's so ironic that on such a day of love and laughter, that one has to come across this scene on the banks of a romantic river. You just wish there is no poverty in this world....anyways coming back to the main subject...
I remember being told that in some parts of Guangxi Province, young women offered fruit and cakes to pray for a alert mind. While in other provinces there are girls who would do weaving and handcrafts. Overall it’s a great day to enjoy good Chinese food!
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