Location: Lovers’ Rock, Bowen Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China
Date: seventh day of the seventh lunar month. 13 Aug 2013; 2 Aug 2014; 20 Aug 2015.
Level of participation: 2 - see dazzling displays of domestic prowess and gaze at the starry symbols of two lovers.
Qi Xi is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Night. In a tradition that pre-dates Christ (not to mention speed dating), single girls carry out tasks to impress potential lovers. Also called Night of the Skills, the event sees girls showing off their talents at domestic duties such as embroidery and melon carving. They throw a sewing needle into a bowl of water and, if it floats, that indicates the girl is an accomplished knitter.
The festival honours seven fairy sisters who, while swimming, had their clothes stolen by a cheeky cowherd. Sent to ask for their clothes back, the youngest and most beautiful sister had to marry the mortal because he had seen her naked.
When her mother got wind of the unsuitable match, she angrily formed a river in the sky to divide them - the Milky Way. On this night, magpies fly into the heavens and create a bridge to unite the lovers.
Girls make offerings of flowers, food and face powder to the stars representing the couple. When the ceremony is over, in the hope of sharing the seventh sister’s celestial beauty, they throw half the powder on the roof and use the rest.