Qixi Festival (Chinese: 七夕节； literally "The Night of Sevens"), also known as Magpie Festival, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar; thus its name. It inspired Tanabata (七夕) in Japan, Chilseok (칠석) in Korea, and Thất Tịch in Vietnam. It has sometimes been called Chinese Valentine's Day (Chinese: 情人节； pinyin: Qíng rén jié) since the late 1990s, which is, strictly speaking, an inaccurate portrait of the festival.
Girls traditionally demonstrate their domestic arts, especially melon carving, on this day and make wishes for a good husband. It is also known by the following names:
* The Festival to Plead for Skills
* The Seventh Sister's Birthday, especially in Cantonese, (Chinese: 七姊诞； Mandarin Pinyin: qī zǐ dàn; Jyutping: cat1 zi2 daan3)
* The Night of Skills (Chinese: 七夕； pinyin: qi xī)
In 2012, this festival falls on August 23.
Qixi originated during the Han Dynasty. It came from people's worship of the stars. On Qixi, a festoon is placed in the yard and single or newly married women in the household makes an offering to Niulang and Zhinü consisting of fruit, flowers, tea, and face powder. After finishing the offering, half of the face powder is thrown on the roof and the other half divided among the young women of the household. It is believed that by doing this, the women are bound in beauty with Zhinü.
Another tradition is for girls to throw a sewing needle into a bowl full of water on the night of Qixi as a test of embroidery skills. If the needle floats on top of the water instead of sinking, it proves the girl is a skilled embroideress. Single women also pray for finding a good husband in the future. And the newly married women pray to become pregnant quickly.
People say that on this day it will rain, because of the crying in heaven. Others say that if you stand under grapevines on this night, you can hear the lovers talking.