The Legend of Qixi

qixi

With Valentine’s Day just passed, the grounds of Capella Singapore was teaming with couples eager to romance their partners at our restaurants, the bar and Auriga spa.  Leading up to this day, there was much ado about Auriga spa’s new couple’s treatment – the Senja Sunyi treatment, which features a special blend of traditional Asian massage techniques. This reminded me of an interesting fact about how there are actually two Chinese Valentine’s Day.

The popular and more well known Chinese Valentine’s Day is “Chap Goh Mei” (literally translated from Hokkien as the fifteenth night), which marks the last day of the Lunar New Year festivities.  This day is typically celebrated by single women who pen their names and contact details on mandarin oranges and toss them into the river for single men to collect and eat.  Sweet oranges would mean that their fate together was good.

The lesser-known tale of the Chinese Valentine’s Day is marked by the seventh day of the seventh month on the Lunar Calendar.  This day is also known as “Qixi” which means the night of sevens and it revolves around a love story between a princess and a cowherd.

qixi

The story tells of a princess, the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven, Zhinü (literally meaning “the weaver”), who came to Earth to escape her mundane duty of weaving clouds in heaven.  Here she met a young cowherd and they fell in love and got married.  Naturally when the Goddess of Heaven found out about the nuptial, she was furious and ordered Zhinü to return to heaven.

In the midst of his misery, the cowherd heard the voice of one of his oxen, telling him that if he killed it and put on his hide, he would be able to go up to heaven and be with his wife.

The cowherd did as the ox had said and went up to heaven to look for Zhinü.  When the Goddess found out, in her anger she took out her hairpin and scratched a large river in the sky, separating the two lovers for eternity.

All is not lost however.  One night each year, all the magpies in the world would take pity on the star-crossed lovers and fly up into heaven to form a bridge known as Que Qiao, “the bridge of magpies,” so that the lovers can be together for a single night, which is the seventh night of the seventh moon.

I always love the romance of this story and while it won’t be celebrated for several months I can’t help but think about it during this time of year.  The Qixi festival in 2013 falls on 13 August.

 

 

64px-PD-icon.svg  The image of the star-crossed lovers is in the US public domain as the copyright has expired.

The Legend Of Tequila

Celso Flores El Jimador

There are as many legends of Mexico as there are Mexicans and lovers of this beautiful and rich country.  There is one legend though, that Capella Pedregal’s sommelier Ernesto Mendoza loves to share the most: the legend of tequila.

Celso Flores El Jimador

During a recent tour of the Capella Pedregal wine cave and spirit room, Ernesto shared the story with me:

Many centuries ago, there was a big thunderstorm in Mexico and a lightning bolt hit an agave field, completely destroying the plants.  Once the storm had passed, the farmers went to survey the damage.  They discovered a syrupy liquid remaining at the core of the plants.  One of the farmers tasted it, and finding it sweet, decided to collect the liquid from the plants’ charred remains.

Time passed and the farmer went to check out his agave liquid stash.  Foam had formed atop the liquid, which the farmer discarded.  He then tasted the fluid again and discovered it now possessed a richer and stronger flavor.  The farmer found it so delicious that he drank some more.

Legend says it changed his personality, which led others to believe that it was a gift from the goddess Mayahuel, a symbol of ancient fertility and drunkenness.  This drink was then reserved for the lords and priests for use in different religious events and festivities.  As the drink grew in popularity it began to be known as Tequila, the town where this gift was first bestowed.

Don’t you just like this legend of tequila?  I have already marked my calendar for my next meeting with Ernesto, on which he promises to explain me all about the tequila varieties and other important elements of savoring this popular Mexican drink.

 

“El Jimador” – a man at the agave field: by Celso Flores via Flickr