New Romantic Chinese TV Series to Sweeten Up Your Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day) – Rec’d by China Daily

Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine’s Day, is coming up (this year August 7). If you’re a fan of TV series — and enjoy watching in Chinese — consider sweetening up the holiday with one of these new Chinese shows, as featured in the China Daily article Romantic dramas a sweet TV treat for Qixi:

In the past, realistic or tragic TV dramas dominated the Chinese TV market. But this year has seen a big shift as more viewers, especially young women, are turning to sweet romantic dramas with a happy ending.

All of these TV dramas have a similar format. The leading male and female characters are very outstanding in their studies and careers, and have rarely had romantic relationships before they meet. Usually, they fall in love with each other at first sight or after they clear up some misunderstandings. And the couple continues to show affection through the drama.

Anyone whose guilty TV pleasures happen to include romantic, lighthearted picks (such as movies from Netflix or Hallmark) should find something to love in the 10 recommended TV series in the article, which include Gank Your Heart (陪你到世界之巅), the TV series featured in the image above.

Those of you studying Mandarin might also give these TV series a try. After all, some of the best learning aids are those that make it fun! When I started out, I spent a lot of evenings engrossed in TV series about young people falling in love. My desire to understand everything on screen pushed me to learn more Chinese words and characters. (After all, how else will you know why they’re breaking up or who has a crush on who?) 😉

Head on over to China Daily to read Romantic dramas a sweet TV treat for Qixi. And then start watching!

Happy Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day) to everyone!

Romance in the Chinese Lantern Festival – Why the Holiday Lights Up Hearts Too

In Chinese culture, the Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the lunar new year (Feb 19 this year), sees celebrations marked by elaborate displays of colorfully illuminated lantern installations. Even in the coldest of weather, people will brave the elements just to get out and visit lantern exhibitions all across Asia.

But just as the Chinese Lantern Festival lights up the night, it has also traditionally lit up young hearts as well.

A few years ago, I discovered its connection to romance when the holiday happened to fall on Valentine’s Day:

In China some have dubbed the Lantern Festival the real Chinese Valentine’s Day. In the past, unmarried women were not allowed to freely leave their homes. But during the Lantern Festival, they had the chance to come out with chaperones and enjoy the lanterns in public, a wonderful opportunity to meet potential romantic partners as well.

The fact that this holiday traditionally served to encourage courtship has led people to dub it the true Chinese Valentine’s Day, instead of the Qixi Festival or Double-Seven Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar.

Plus, anyone who has ever visited displays of lanterns knows just how romantic the entire atmosphere can be. The bright, colorful glow of the lanterns at night creates this magical backdrop certain to warm the hearts of any couple. And in this scenario, to borrow the lyrics of the Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen song, “…the night belongs to lovers”.

Whether you have romance on your mind or not, a visit to a lantern display in your area will surely light up your heart. And who knows? Maybe you just might meet that someone special during the Chinese Lantern Festival.

What do you think about the romantic side of the Lantern Festival in Chinese culture?

Qixi Festival: Popular Gifts, Celebrations for the Chinese Valentine’s Day

As the sultry days of August are upon us, there’s another celebration ready to heat things up, especially among lovers and couples. The Qixi Festival, also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day or the Double-Sevens Festival (because it falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar — Aug 7 in 2019), is a traditional Chinese holiday that has surged in popularity in recent years.

If you happen to have someone special in your life, how should you celebrate Qixi Festival? What are some popular gifts for Qixi Festival? Here are a few ideas I’ve culled together, whether you’re making purchases or plans or just curious about this Chinese Valentine’s Day.

Qixi Festival: Popular Gifts

If there’s anyone who knows what people usually buy for Qixi Festival, it’s China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, and here’s what they found in an article in China Daily: “Alibaba claims that the number of people searching key words such as flowers, roses, and chocolates on online shopping websites increases dramatically around Qixi.”

In other words, your Valentine’s Day standards make for excellent gifts for Qixi Festival, if you’re buying for someone special, like a girlfriend or boyfriend, husband or wife.

But the same China Daily article gives additional visual cues through the photographs included in the story.

There’s a gorgeous cake frosted in pink with special Qixi Festival greetings written on the top, which could inspire you to give your loved one a sweet surprise – a cake or dessert — for the holiday as well.

Another photo shows a boyfriend presenting his girlfriend with a gold necklace for Qixi Festival. So add jewelry – another typical gift of Valentine’s Day – to your list of possibilities.

Qixi Festival: Popular Ways to Celebrate

Have a romantic candlelit meal together

As this China Daily article notes, “Chinese people embrace their own “Valentine’s Day” Tuesday, when lovers send each other gifts or have romantic candlelit meals together.” So yes, why not make reservations for two at that restaurant in town with the breathtaking views, cozy interiors and, perhaps, a history of people getting on one knee with a ring in their hands. It may sound utterly clichéd and unoriginal, but sometimes we all crave a little something corny (and delicious!) in our lives.

And if you’re not attached yet, just gather together your closest friends – who doesn’t love an excuse for a nice meal with good company?

Long-distance lovers make contact

Qixi Festival might just be the ultimate holiday honoring anyone “going the distance” in a relationship, and that’s because of the story behind it. As I wrote earlier in Gifts for the Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day):

The story goes that once an oxherd, Niulang, and weaving girl, Zhinu, fell in love after he caught a glimpse of her bathing and stole her clothes. Instead of getting a good slap, Niulang got lucky (literally) and got married. The couple had two kids, lived happily ever after — that is, until the heavens (or, in some stories, her mother) realized their love went against natural laws: mortals and fairies cannot marry. She was banished up to the heavens forever, some say to go back to her real job of weaving the clouds. Still, Niulang loved her so much he couldn’t stay away. On the advice of an ox, he slaughtered it (let’s hope that ox got a real good deal in heaven), dressed in its hide, and then traveled up to the heavens to see her. But — aiya! — the heavens interfered by scratching a wide river in the heavens to separate the two lovers, forcing Niulang and Zhinu to stare longingly at each other from opposite banks. Then the magpies took pity on them and formed a bridge over the Milky Way on the seventh day of the seventh moon, bringing the stars together (this also happens in the Northern night sky, when the stars Altair and Vega, representing Niulang and Zhinu, get close). Thus, you have Qixi, the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

So if you’re separated from a loved one – whether a lover, spouse, relative or friend – why not follow in the footsteps of Niulang and Zhinu and reunite for the Qixi Festival? These Chinese couples did just that, flying across the country to be together. But even if you can’t manage the trip, do a virtual meeting with a video call and let them know how much you care.

Get matched or even married

As China Daily reported:

Wang Juan with the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Peking University, said that Qixi was for young women and girls to get together, do embroidery and pray for good needlework skills which in turn would help them find a partner.

Though people today rarely do needlework, finding a mate is still an important part of the day. Traditional, commercial matchmaking events are held in parks.

So technically, you could give matchmaking a go, whether that’s attending a speed-dating event, giving online dating a try or even “swiping right” on someone in your dating apps.

And yes, if you’re already engaged (or about to be), you could follow in the footsteps of these couples in China, who participated in a mass wedding dressed in traditional Chinese garb.

Or you could take the holiday as a chance to reminisce: “Chen Yi, in his fifties, from Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan province, said he does not envy young people celebrating the festival, but is reminded of the good old days when he and his wife enjoyed a simple, romantic relationship.”

Do a little stargazing

Since Qixi Festival has its own celestial symbols – with the stars Altair and Vega, representing Niulang and Zhinu – you could look up at the night sky on a clear evening on or near Qixi Festival and observe the two heavenly bodies as they make their annual reunion.

And you wouldn’t be the first one, as China Daily reported:

Guo Houchi, a college student from Changsha, remembers his mother telling him stories about Qixi.

“She told me that when she was young she would go out on the night of Qixi to see the stars in the sky and try to find Niu Lang and Zhi Nu. It sounded like such a romantic way to celebrate.”

How will you celebrate Qixi Festival, the Chinese Valentine’s Day?

How to celebrate Valentine’s Day/Chinese Lantern Festival + tangyuan recipes!

Enjoying the lanterns (such as the above) during the Chinese Lantern Festival will feel even more romantic this year, with Valentine's Day on the same day!
Enjoying the lanterns (such as the above) during the Chinese Lantern Festival will feel even more romantic this year, with Valentine’s Day on the same day!

February 14, 2014 is not your usual Valentine’s Day, because it also marks the rare occurrence of the Western holiday of Valentine’s Day and the Chinese holiday of the Lantern Festival (元宵节, yuánxiāojié) on the same day (which happens every 19 years).

Then again, in a sense, weren’t these holidays meant to be together? In China some have dubbed the Lantern Festival the real Chinese Valentine’s Day. In the past, unmarried women were not allowed to freely leave their homes. But during the Lantern Festival, they had the chance to come out with chaperones and enjoy the lanterns in public, a wonderful opportunity to meet potential romantic partners as well.

Still, I see this meeting of the two holidays as a perfect symbol of Chinese-Western cross-cultural relationships — and definitely worth celebrating in a special way! The question remains, how?

Besides the usual chocolates and roses, here in China people have decided to add a little Valentine’s Day flare to one of the Lantern Festival’s favorite treats: tangyuan. Instead of the traditional sesame or red-bean paste fillings, people are opting for rose-flavored tangyuan or chocolate tangyuan (yum!). If you’re in China, head to your local supermarket! If not, scroll down — I’ve translated a couple of recipes from online (warning: I’ve yet to try either, so attempt at your own risk!).

For me, there’s something so irresistibly romantic about light displays in the wintertime (I always loved going out with my family to enjoy the Christmas lights in Cleveland, Ohio). That’s why the perennial lantern displays all around China — and other parts of the world — could be that perfect after-dinner activity with your date or spouse. No lanterns? Consider creating your own simple version (like this) or try a Western take on the holiday by stringing up some Christmas lights (especially if you have strings of red) around the house.

How will you celebrate this unusual concurrence of the Lantern Festival and Valentine’s Day?

Wishing you all a Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Lantern Festival! 祝你门情人节和元宵节快乐!

Rose-Flavored Tangyuan

Translated from this original recipe (which includes excellent photos as a guide). Like my mother-in-law’s cooking, this is an intuitive recipe. No exact amounts are provided, so use your judgment and palate to guide you!

Ingredients:

Glutinous rice flour (sold in Chinese supermarkets)
Dried edible roses
White sugar
Honey
Strawberries

1. Wash and then dry out the edible roses, and then remove the stems. Place the petals in a bowl.

2. Add white sugar to the bowl according to taste and preference. Mix the sugar and petals together to create a powder.

3. Add honey according to taste and preference.

4. Mix together the honey and powder to create the rose paste for the tangyuan. Set this aside.

5. Wash the strawberries, then soak them in water with a dash of salt for 15 minutes.

6. Remove the strawberries from the salt water soak and place them in a blender. Whisk the strawberries to create a juice.

7. In a saucepan, heat the strawberry juice until warm.

8. Mix the warm strawberry juice with glutinous rice flour, carefully adding just enough flour until you can knead the dough — but not so much that the dough is too dry and falls apart. Knead the dough into a round shape.

9. To prepare the rose filling, mix a little glutinous rice flour into the rose paste.

10. Take a piece of dough, roll it into a round shape and then flatten it. In the middle of the flattened shape, spoon a small amount of rose paste.

11. Slowly close the dough over the paste, then roll it into a round tangyuan shape.

12. Boil the tangyuan until they float. Remove and serve in a bowl.

Chef’s notes:

1. To give the tangyuan a more romantic pink color, I used strawberry juice in the tangyuan. It not only gives the tangyuan a slight pink color but also adds that sweet, fragrant strawberry flavor.

2. By warming the strawberry juice before mixing it with the flour, the dough is more soft and also will be less likely to split open during the process of rolling the tangyuan. No need to boil the strawberry juice, just heat until warm.

3. When adding the honey to the rose paste I added a little more and the mixture was too watery, so I later added glutinous rice flour to the paste to make it easier to fill the tangyuan.

4. Don’t add too much filling, otherwise the tangyuan will easily leak.

5. If it is too difficult for you to create the tangyuan, just directly mix the rose paste and the dough together, roll into balls and then boil them. It’s also delicious!

Romantic Valentine’s Day Chocolate Tangyuan

Translated from this recipe, which includes photos to guide you.

Ingredients:

400 grams glutinous rice flour
52 grams of Dove-brand chocolates
180 grams of non-gluten flour (such as rice flour)
Dragonfruit peels

1. Prepare the dragonfruit.

2. Remove the peel from the fruit, then slice the peel into thin strips.

3. Place the sliced dragonfruit peel into a blender and blend into a juice.

4. Using a filter to filter out the impurities, pour the juice into a bowl. Set aside.

5. Add the non-gluten flour to a new bowl, then pour in boiled water and quickly stir it together.

6. Add the glutinous rice flour.

7. Pour in the dragonfruit juice to the glutinous rice flour and mix together.

8. Even the mixture into a smooth round of dough.

9. Prepare the chocolate.

10. Pound the chocolate into small pieces.

11. Separate the dough into small pieces. Each piece should be moulded into a nest shape.

12. Add a chocolate piece/pieces in the center of the nest, and then fold the dough over and close it up into a round shape.

13. Repeat the process of nesting chocolate into the pieces of dough until all of the tangyuan are finished.

14. Place cold water in a pot and then boil the tangyuan. When the tangyuan float, they are ready to serve.

The Friday Valentine’s Day Roundup

A heart-shaped box filled with chocolate-shaped hearts
(photo by Tijs Gerritsen)

Valentine’s Day arrives this Tuesday, February 14. In honor of the day To give this deadline-weary writer a break from a long week, I’m pulling out some of my favorite Valentine-related content from the archives.

Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Husband Forgot Valentine’s Day. “Basically, as Valentine’s Day passed without a hint of romance…I’ve been pouring over whether or not my western conditioning has been detrimental to my marriage.”

Mandarin Love: Chinese Phrases on Love and Destiny. I share some of my favorite Chinese idioms that invoke love and destiny. Might just come in handy on Tuesday. 😉

Ask the Yangxifu: Gifts for Chinese Valentine’s Day. For those of you who don’t know, China also has its own Valentine’s Day called Qixi, which lands on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar year. I discuss the holiday and possible gift ideas for your boyfriend or husband.

China and Its Oh So Romantic Christmas. Okay, you’re probably thinking, Jocelyn has really lost it because she’s pulling out a Christmas entry in the middle of February. But, Christmas in China feels a lot like Valentine’s Day — read for yourself and decide.

The Double Happiness Archives. Enjoy one of the real-life stories of Western women and Chinese men in love from the archives. (And for more stories, also see my lists of books and movies that feature couples of Chinese men and Western women.)

Happy Valentine’s Day — or as they say in China, qíngrénjié kuàilè (情人节快乐)!

Ask the Yangxifu: Gifts for the Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day)

love you
How do you say I love you — with a gift — on Qixi Festival, also know as the Chinese Valentine’s Day? (photo by Crystal Leigh Shearin)

NOTE: Find newer recommendations in my post Qixi Festival: Popular Gifts, Celebrations for the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

A Valentine asks:

Hi! I’m a Western girl in love with a Chinese guy. I am going to stay in China the whole summer, taking a language course, just to be close to him.

I am wondering, will it be okay if I give him a present on Qixi Festival as a way of expressing my feelings towards him?

Any present suggestions? Maybe something I can bring from the West? Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: Gifts for the Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day)”