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.
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.