le 7e jour du 7e mois lunaire

Dernier ajout : 31 août 2009.

le 7e jour du 7e mois lunaire, est le jour de retrouvailles des deux amoureux du ciel (en vietnamien Nguu Lang et Chuc Nu) condamnés à ne se rencontrer qu’une fois par an — ce jour est habituellement pluvieux, à cause des larmes versées par eux (mua ngâu).

It’s not exactly Valentine’s Day, but people of Taiwan, particularly young people, observed it Wednesday (August 26) anyway.

Valentine’s Day is observed on February 14 in the West in honor of St. Valentine. It’s a day for exchanging valentines and other tokens of affection.

The Chinese, including almost all people on Taiwan, used to mark Qi-xi or Seventh Evening on the seventh day of the seventh moon on the Chinese lunar calendar, which falls tomorrow this year.

There was no exchange of valentines. There is, now at least on Taiwan, which has become much too Westernised – oops, commercialised. Boyfriends now send chocolate to their girlfriends.
Chocolate makers want brisk sales of their goodies.

What is lacking is the romantic spirit, which gave rise to China’s “Lovers’ Day.”

Our forefathers believed the two stars Chien-niu or Herd Boy which is Altair and Zhi-nu or Weaver Girl which is Vega – they are suns in fact,and not moving – moved closer to each other.

Over time a myth was born. Herd Boy and his two children were separated from their mother Weaver Girl who is on the other side of the river in heaven, or the Milky Way. They were able to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh moon, with the help of magpies that make a bridge across the river.

Actually, Altair is the brightest star in the constellation Aquila. In astrology, it was ill-omened, portending danger from reptiles. Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, which thousands of years ago served as the Northern Pole Star.

One most romantic episode on the Seventh Evening is recorded in Po Chu-yi’s Song of Eternal Sorrow. The poet described the love between Emperor Xuanzhong of the Tang Dynasty and his imperial concubine Yang. They vowed at the Palace of Eternal Life on the Seventh Evening never to separate, no matter what.

In old China, one romantic way of celebrating the Seventh Evening was for unmarried girls to pray for divine instructions for improving their needlework, known as qi qiao.
Needlework was one of the top assets they might have to marry better husbands.
Usually, girls would try to test their skills by running a section of thread through the eye or eyes of a needle in moonlight.

That wasn’t popular in pragmatic Min-nan or southern Fujian, from where the ancestors of modern day Han Chinese in Taiwan came to settle.

Instead the people of Min-nan celebrated the day as the birthday of Qi-niu-ma Seventh Grandmother, who is also known as Birth-Recording Queen.

Well, it makes sense. Min-nan, in particular Zhangzhou, was settled by the Han Chinese much later. The settlers had difficulty raising children in disease-ridden areas ; child mortality was extraordinarily high.

As a result, parents wanted to have as many children as possible and wished some supernatural beings would protect their offspring against diseases.

So a myth of Zhuang mu or Bed Mother was created.
When a baby was born, its mother would go to Seventh Grandmother to ask for a special amulet, a very small satchel containing some incense. The child could not part with the amulet until he or she was 16 sui. (A Chinese baby was one year old or sui, when it was born.)
On the seventh day of the seventh moon when the child was 16 sui, he or she had to give up that amulet to come of age. The parents had to make abundant offerings to Seventh Grandmother to thank her and Bed Mother.

In Taiwan, Hoklo used to feed the new member of the family coming of age with a rooster cooked with herbs.

People on an even more pragmatic Taiwan now do not observe the seventh day of the seventh moon according to that time-honored tradition any more.

As a matter of fact, young men on Taiwan are much less romantic, getting more pragmatic like those of their opposite sex. By nature, women are more pragmatic than men.
Few of them want to get married and raise a family when they are still “young”, unwilling to take responsibility for each other but able to enjoy their unmarried lives.
Fewer still want to have babies as soon as they marry.

Who wants to worship Seventh Grandmother and Bed Mother ?