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Traditional Chinese "Valentine's Day" celebrated with Olympic features
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21:05, August 07, 2008

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 Chinese girls observe ancient custom ahead of Qixi Festival
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Thursday was doubly significant for the Chinese - not only marking just one day to go for the Olympics but also an ancient festival, often dubbed the Chinese Valentine's Day.

Thursday was the Double Seventh Festival (Qixi Festival in Chinese), which falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month.

Qixi is a romantic time for many Chinese. For example, a 26-year-old girl named Gao Xin and her boyfriend in Shandong Province on Thursday bought 200 mini-sized red flags and handed them out for free in Quancheng Square in Jinan city.

"We will always remember this year's Qixi Festival, for it is such a great day and we have done great things to celebrate," she said.

Wang Fugui is a Beijing citizen fond of the costumes of the Han dynasty, during which the Qixi Festival originated. He and some other "clothing lovers" held an ancient Games in Beijing on Thursday, competing in ancient Chinese sport games such as Cuju (ancient football), Jiaoli (ancient wrestling) and ancient archery. All "athletes" were wearing sports clothes from the Han dynasty.

"Since today was Qixi, we launched the ancient Games and wore traditional clothes, to bring the best luck for Friday's Olympics," Wang said.

Meanwhile, Olympic-related decorations were the top choices for many lovers as a festival gift. The Fuwa, the five mascot dolls of the Beijing Games, Olympic T-shirts and torch-shaped pins were all popular.

"I would buy the five Fuwa for my girlfriend, for they are the Olympic gift Chinese people give to friends across the world, and I thought it was of great meaning for our love," a Jinan buyer said.

A couple in Zhejiang province's Xiaoshan city surnamed Lin and Fang had decided to get engaged on Qixi. "How great it was to get engaged in both a lover's day and an Olympics eve," Lin said.

This year's festival was also special for many young Olympic volunteers, who would have to work until late on the day ahead of the big event.

24-year-old Wu Xiaofei was a volunteer in Qingdao city's Olympic Sailing Center. "This year I might spend the day with many other volunteers instead of my boyfriend. Maybe there will be no roses nor a candlelight dinner, but it will still be great to celebrate the day at this city, at this moment," she said.

College students Huang Yin and Wei Shaocong were volunteers in the Wu Kesong basketball gymnasium in Beijing.

"Perhaps it won't be until 10 p.m. that we will finish work. But we will spend the last hours of the festival on the rooftop of my flat, sitting together and staying up all night waiting for the first dawn light of the big day," Huang Yin said.

The Double Seventh Festival comes with a legend.

A long time ago, there was an honest and kind-hearted fellow named Niu Lang (Cowhand). He married a fairy from heaven called Zhi Nu (Weaver Maid) who was in love with him and escaped from heaven to earth secretly. They lived a happy life and she gave birth to a boy and a girl.

Unfortunately, the God of Heaven soon found out the secret and the Queen Mother wanted to separate the couple. She used her gold hairpins and made a billowy river between them. The Cowhand and the Weaver Maid were separated on the two banks forever and could only feel their tears.

Finally, their loyalty to love touched the magpies, so tens of thousands of magpies came to build a bridge for the Cowhand and Weaver Maid to meet each other. The Queen Mother was eventually moved and allowed them to meet each year on the 7th of the 7th lunar month.

Source: Xinhua

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