|The Double-Seventh Festival
The Double Seventh Festival refers to the seventh night of the seventh lunar month. It is a traditional folk festival of the Han people. This night is not only the time when the legendary cowherd and the Girl Weaver are supposed to have their annual meeting, but also a good opportunity for women to pray to the Girl Weaver for dexterity. Therefore, this festival is also named " Maiden's Day" or " Daughter's Day". The day is not as well-known as many other Chinese festivals. But almost everyone in China, young or old, is very familiar with the story behind it.
Once upon a time, there lived a poor cowherd, Niulang, whose parents had died long before. He had to live with his elder brother. Unfortunately, his brother and his sister-in -law were very mean and often treated Niulang very badly. They would not give him enough food to eat and made him work so hard that he hardly had time to sleep. Finally, they kicked him of their home. All he had in the world were the clothes on his back and an old ox.
Niulang built a small thatched cottage on the side of a mountain. He cut and dug and sweated until he had made a vegetable garden out of the rocky soil. He was often tired and hungry, but always found time to take good care of his old ox. One day, the old ox suddenly began to speak to him. It said that it used to be Taurus, the Golden-Ox Star in the sky but had been banished to this world by the Lord of Heaven as punishment for violating a heavenly rule against spreading grain seeds on earth. The old ox told Niulang that the goddesses of heaven would take a bath in a sacred pond not far from his cottage a few days later. Among them was a beautiful, virtuous and industrious girl whose name is Zhinu, the Girl Weaver. Zhinu was a granddaughter of the king of the Heavenly Kingdom. If the cowherd took the advantage of the situation and took away her clothes while she was bathing in the pond, she would stay and become his wife.
When the day came, Niulang hid in the tall reeds by the pond and waited for the young goddesses. They soon came, just as the ox said they would. They took off their silk robes and jumped into the clear water. Niulang crept out of his hiding place, picked up Zhinu's clothes and ran away. Her companions were so frightened that they jumped out, dressed as quickly as they could and flew away, leaving the Girl Weaver behind. Niulang returned and gave her back her clothes. He had adored her from first sight. They looked into each other's eyes. The Girle Weaver told the poor cowherd that she would be his wife.
After their marriage, the cowherd plowed and the Girl Weaver wove and they loved each other. The Girl Weaver became famous far and wide for her dexterity in raising silkworms, reeling and weaving exquisite silks and satins. Three years later, Zhinu gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. They named the boy "Brother Gold" and the girl "Sister Jade". The couple were overjoyed with the additions to their family and believed that they would remain a devoted couple to the end of their lives.