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Feast of Maidens

English: Feast of Maidens, Portuguese: Festa das Maidens, Traditional: 七姐誕, Simplified: 七姐诞

The Feast of Maidens is a special holiday in Macau that spreads love and romance all-round the city.

It occurs on the 7th day and moon in the Chinese calendar and is most significant for the unmarried female population in town.

Feast of Maidens, Macau, 2024 Dates, Performances & Activities

According to legend, this holiday is the only day of the year when the Heavenly Weaver (Zhinu) has the opportunity of meeting her soulmate, Cowherd (Niulang), over the bridge of birds that is located in the Milky Way. For this reason, the holiday is also known as the Lovers’ Festival. It is marked by unique performances on the streets of Macau, a wonderful chance to experience the local cultural heritage.

The Feast of Maidens is also known as the Qixi Festival in China, while others refer to it as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. The story of Cowherd and Heavenly Weaver are well known in traditional Chinese mythology; according to legend, both characters are heavenly deities. Zhinu was responsible for weaving the beautiful clouds, while Niulang cared for the celestial herds. They fell in love, which was considered an offence in Heaven, angering the Heavenly Queen Mother and the Jade Emperor.

Niulang was exiled to Earth, temporarily ending their love story. He eventually became a cowherd while Zhinu was punished by being coerced into weaving clouds all day. She suffered from losing her lover and cried every day for his loss.

Eventually, Niulang and Zhinu reunited on earth and got married, but once the Queen Mother discovered this, she sent for Zhinu to return to the heavens. Niulang wore cowhide and took their children to the sky to look for his lover. The Queen Mother then created the Milky Way as an obstacle between the lovers, separating them once again.

There is a happy ending as the Queen Mother finally allowed them to be reunited on the magpie bridge on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, hence the festivities.

The Feast of Maidens has a truly special story behind it for unmarried Chinese women in Macau.

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