For more than a billion people, the 28th of August is one of the most romantic days of the year – it’s Qixi Jie, otherwise known as Chinese Valentine’s Day.
Celebrated for over two thousand years, at the heart of the festival is a story of forbidden love between a celestial being, Zhi Nü, and an ordinary ox herder, Nui Lang. Zhi Nü abandons her boring life in the heavens and seeks out adventure on earth, where she meets a humble mortal. Despite their different backgrounds, the two fall in love and settle down together.
But there’ll be no happily ever after for these two star-crossed lovers. When the gods in heaven discover Zhi Nü is missing, they are furious, and track her and Niu Lang down. The gods decide not to kill the unfortunate pair, but the punishment for disobeying the rules is cruel and everlasting. They turn Zhi Nü and Niu Lang into stars and banish them to opposite sides of the galaxy, to be divided for all eternity.
The story ends with a shred of hope. All the magpies of the world feel sorry for Zhi Nü and Niu Lang. They agree that once a year they will come together to form a bridge across the galaxy, uniting the lovers for one night. Tradition states that if you stand underneath vines on the night of the festival, you can hear the two lovers whispering to each other.
In the past celebrations for Qixi Jie have included making offerings of food to Zhi Nü, hanging flowers on the horns of oxen, and sewing skills demonstrations by young women. Much like it’s western counter- part, today this ancient festival is usually marked with romantic gestures such as gift giving, heart-felt messages, and a date night with a significant other.
Celebrate the romance of Chinese Valentine’s Day at China Exchange, with the Lovers’ Bridge of Magpies, a concert in partnership with music charity Talent Unlimited. The Lovers’ Bridge of Magpies will be performed by a talented collection of young artists: Phoebe Haines, Iúnó Connolly, Waimay Yau, Jacob Bettinelli, and Leona Crasi.
The concert will be held at China Exchange in the heart of Chinatown, on Wednesday 6 September 2017, 7:30pm-8:45pm.