In Chinese folklore, this festival is the most romantic of the year. Celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar, it has been around for over 2000 years since the Han Dynasty.

The story goes that an orphan shepherd Niulang, living with his brother and sister in law once left his home, and even though he didn’t have much, he found time and love to take care of an old ox he kept in his cottage. The Ox is believed to be Taurus, who then guided him to a river where he met the Heavenly weaver princess Zhi Nu, granddaughter of the Jade Emperor. They instantly fell in love and the Ox helped them keep up their disguise. They were blessed with twins, Brother Gold and Sister Jade.

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The story goes that an orphan shepherd Niulang, living with his brother and sister in law once left his home, and even though he didn’t have much, he found time and love to take care of an old ox he kept in his cottage. The Ox is believed to be Taurus, who then guided him to a river where he met the Heavenly weaver princess Zhi Nu, granddaughter of the Jade Emperor. They instantly fell in love and the Ox helped them keep up their disguise. They were blessed with twins, Brother Gold and Sister Jade.

When the Emperor found out that his granddaughter had married a mortal, he was furious and ordered the Empress to bring Zhi Nu back. Niulang returned home to his children crying and after being told their mother was taken away; he seeks the help of the magical Ox to go up to the Heavens to bring his wife home. The Empress is less than pleased to see him and his children, and angrily lashes her hairpin in the skies to create a river of stars to separate the lovers.

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This river is the Milky Way. Seperated on two ends of the world, the tears of Zhi Nu, Niulang and their children are endless and this melts the heart of the Empress who then allows them to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar year, over a magical bridge formed by magpies over the Milky Way. Such is the power of love. And thus to celebrate this love, the festival is celebrated where in young women weave and pray to Zhi Nu to bring them love while offering her deliciously fried fruit. 

Like the westernized version, gifts, flowers and chocolates are exchanged between lovers. Most people no longer have the time to shop or are too afraid to bring a gift their loved one won’t like and settle for Hongbaos with a value of 520 RMB because it’s the no that represents I love you. (pinyin: wǔ'èrlíng) or the lucky sum of 888 RMB. If you’re one of those, lets help you be a little less impersonal and actually surprise your girlfriend or boyfriend with an actual gift for a change.

Here’s a taobao guide, make sure you place your orders today so that the gift arrives in time.

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Not a fan of chocolate? No problem! Here are some sweet favors same same but different.

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