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Cowherd and Weaving Girl

Maybe you have heard, maybe not, I still have to stress that the fairy tale of the Cowherd and the Weaving Girl is one of the four most famous folktales of ancient China and loved by the old generations and familiar by young generations.

This legend is a classic love story between a fairy and a human being, as well as the Dong Yong and Seventh Fairy. The Qixi Festival or Qiqiao Festival is said to have something to do with the fairy tale, that people usually would pray to these two lovers on the festival for true and happly marriage in ancient times. Nowadays, the seventh day of every seventh month of the lunar calendar has become Chinese Valentine's Day.

The Cowherd, a human being, and the Weaving Girl, a fairy, they fall in love with each other, get married, forced to separate and blocked by the Milky Way. Out of compassion for them, the Heavenly Mother give them a chance to meet on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year. on that day, flocks of magpies fly to form a bridge with their bodies over the Milky Way, allowing the Cowherd and the Weaving Girl to meet each other. A story depicts the wishes of Chinese to pursue the freedom of love and marriage. Thus, the Qixi Festival became the most romantic traditional Chinese festival in ancient times. Today, though not so popular as the ancient times, you still can enjoy the plays of Beijing Opera or Shaanxi Opera about the Coward and the Weawing Girl.

On the other hand, this fairy tale also contains Chinese people's understanding about star images. In the tale, the Weaver Girl Star (the Vega) is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, facing the Cowherd Star (the Altair), the brightest star in the constellation Aquila, across the Milky Way.

The Chinese fairy tale of the Cowherd and the Weaving Girl can be seen as a story enjoying equal importance as the Greek myths of Odyssey, Jason, the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece and the ancient European legend of The Ring of the Nibelung etc.