Posted by Teresa Wang
Nowadays more and more Chinese people, especially the young, are starting to accept and celebrate foreign festivals. These festivals do not necessarily contradict or conflict with traditional Chinese culture. Indeed they can be helpful in introducing more diversity to the Chinese people, broadening their horizons.
In the past decade, Valentine’s Day has quietly got under the skin of young people here. As they do everywhere else, clever business owners have turned it into an opportunity to make money. So watching movies, buying gifts or flowers, or going for dinner on that day are all a lot more expensive. A rose usually costs 1.5 yuan (US$0.24) but they are sold for 10 to 20 yuan on Valentine’s Day.
Some young women demand that their boyfriend buys them a bunch of roses, to show that he really loves her. This expensive expenditure on one single day can lead to conflict between young people and their parents. So it’s not surprising that some Chinese parents are now starting to voice their opposition to this Western festival.
Some traditionalists are proposing “Qixi” on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. In Chinese mythology, it was the only day of the year when the legendary cowherd and the fairy-turned-weaver girl got the chance to meet.
This love story is known to all Chinese. The people who propose it say that the lovers’ steadfast faithfulness for the other days of the year is a good lesson for young people, to learn how to cherish love. Qixi is also called “Qiqiao” festival or “Girls’ Day.” In ancient times, single women would pray on this day for marriage and the good sewing skills needed to be a good wife.
But I think Chinese Valentine’s Day should be the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the Chinese New Year. It dates from the Tang dynasty, when Buddhism was prevalent, and there would be three to five nights of magic lantern shows and other public entertainments around this date.
In those prohibitive days, young women were not allowed out of their homes much; they had to accept arranged marriages because they had few other opportunities to meet possible suitors. The Lantern Festival provided a rare chance to meet different boys and girls while they were out at the shows.
Today, many Chinese people are affected by the Western culture without understanding its real essence. They fall in love easily, cohabit easily, marry easily and divorce easily. Today, Valentine’s Day, is a good day to think about the true meaning of love and keep a thanksgiving heart.
What do you think of this? Please share your opinions.