Valentine’s Day in China

Valentine’s Day in China is a very romantic and important holiday for young people. Chinese people love to celebrate holidays, especially Valentine’s Days, even though it’s originally not a real Valentine’s Day.  A holiday is always a good reason for Chinese people to relax, buy themselves nice things, and spend time with their loved ones.  Since Chinese people are very shy to say “I love you” in general, a holiday helps them to open their mouth and heart to say the very precious word – love.  However, there are 5 common holidays people like to celebrate as Valentine’s Day in China. These are lantern festival (元宵节-yuan xiao jie) on Jan.15 in lunar calendar, western Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, Woman’s Day on Mar. 8, Double-seventh Day(七夕-qi xi) on Jul.7 in lunar calendar and Christmas’ Eve on Dec.24.

The original Valentine’s Day in China

Apparently, the current Valentine’s Day in China is a foreign holiday. However young people also like to celebrate Christmas with their lovers. For most of the young Chinese people, Christmas is just a romantic holiday. The majority does not associate the holiday with the christian tradition and the birth of Jesus Christ. Other than these two foreign romantic holidays, the other three have always been celebrated in China.

In ancient times, unmarried girls did not leave the house without their parents’ permission. They only were able to go out with friends on holidays.  On lantern festival night, young girls and boys gathered on the streets to guess lantern riddles. The lantern festival was a very good chance for young people to find love or meet up with their lovers.  That made Lantern festival a holiday about love.  In recent year it has changed. Since Lantern festival is so close to Western Valentines day, most people choose to celebrate western Valentine’s day as a holiday of love. The lantern festival has turned into a holiday for spending time with the family.

Woman’s Day is not only a Chinese holiday, but people all over have celebrated this day for decades. It’s is becoming more and more popular for husbands to send their wife a red envelop through WeChat or Alipay.  A red envelop is originally some money in an envelope for kids or married friends as lucky money.  Some Chinese husbands are too shy to express love over the year, Woman’s Day makes a great chance to say ‘thank you’ or even ‘I love you’.

The Legend of Niulang and Zhinü

Chinese people all know the legend story between Niulang the farmer and Zhinv the goddess.  In the story, the gods are not allowed to love humans.  However, the mother of the gods gave these two special permission where Niulang is able to take a special bridge made of birds so the two can see each other once a year on Jul.7 in lunar calendar.  The story between them is very loving and touching, so people started celebrating this day as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.  But there are also people saying this day was originally for young girls to learn household skills, in ancient times, this is why people also call it Skill Praying Day(乞巧节-qi qiao jie).  The reason it is  celebrated as the Chinese Valentine’s Day is only because it was hyped up by the cooperate marketing.

Alternative Valentine’s Day in China – Shangsi Festival

In fact, there is another Valentine’s Day in China, which is the Shangsi festival, that takes place on Mar.3 in lunar calendar.  But very few people know this festival or celebrate it as Valentine’s Day.

When it comes to celebrating the Valentine’s Day in China, it’s mostly to express the love that people otherwise are to shy to express over the year and to make each other a surprise.  I think that’s the most special part for Chinese people on Valentine’s Days, since there are too many Chinese people, that are too shy to say “I love you”.  There are lovers that never say “I love you” in their whole life in China, and are only brave enough to say it on the specific holidays.  For Chinese people, only saying that word would be precious enough, they don’t need too many different things on that day.  The mostly like eating out at a nice restaurant, sending or receiving flowers and chocolate, watching a movie or shopping.  People like to go out on that day. During that time people usually decorate and promote literary everything. If you go to a mall on Lantern Festival, you might see a lantern riddle guessing event. If you go out on Double-seventh Day, there might be Niulang-Zhinü shows playing somewhere.

Many Chinese men send red envelopes to their girlfriend and wife through phone on that day!  The girls then usually post a screenshot on their WeChat.

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