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Romance, Chinese style

By Tiffany Tan (China Daily)

14:37, August 21, 2012

Young women place heart-shaped lanterns on the water on Qixi, floating their dreams and wishes. (China Daily)

The ancient legend of Qixi is all about romance and lovers, and Tiffany Tan finds out more about this Chinese 'Valentine's Day'.

Thursday, Aug 23, will be a red-letter date for Zhao Xiaoqian and her boyfriend. In the morning, the couple is heading to a scenic part of the Beijing outskirts to shoot photos. Then they're going out for dinner and a movie, they might decide to sing their hearts out at a karaoke lounge.

"He made all the plans. I'm really excited, because some things are supposed to be a surprise," says Zhao, 22, who is currently preparing for an accounting examination. "It's similar to how I felt when I was a girl waiting for Spring Festival to come."

What's so special about Thursday? Well, you might say it's the second Valentine's Day in the year.

The seventh day of the seventh lunar month, or Qixi, which falls on Aug 23 this year, has come to be known as "Chinese Valentine's Day".

On this day, legend says, the tragic lovers Zhinu, the youngest daughter of the celestial Jade Emperor, and her cowherd husband Niulang hold their annual reunion across the heavens. (Marriage between heavenly beings and mortals was forbidden.)

Zhao and her sweetheart celebrate Qixi much like they do Valentine's Day. But it turns out they're quite an unusual couple to be celebrating Qixi at all.

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