Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day! Or is it Singles Awareness Day?

" Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." ~Ursula K. Le Guin

Did you know in China there are specific customs that have definite meaning when it comes to Valentines Day? Valentine's Day is celebrated in Taiwan on February 14, but there is also a special Valentine's Day on July 7 of the lunar calendar, based on an ancient Chinese folktale *see below*. Both dates are equally as important. Many men purchase expensive bouquets of roses and other flowers for their sweethearts on these days. According to Taiwan tradition, the color and number of the roses holds much significance. For example, one red rose means "an only love," eleven roses means "a favorite," ninety-nine roses means "forever," and one hundred eight roses means "marry me."

Massage is a wonderful way to express your feelings of love and romance. Think about it. When was the last time your significant other sat you down, propped your feet upon a pillow and treated your tootsies to some TLC? It is inexpensive, heart-felt, and feels awesome. To me, that is more intimate than a card or flowers. To sit quietly, enjoying each other in that comfortable silence while easing the tension from your body through the feet... doesn't get any better in my opinion. Of course, as we are all adults here, massage is a wonderful introduction to love-making which is pretty popular (I hear) on this very day. In fact I am willing to bet many men mark this day on their calendars along with Birthdays and Anniversaries (wink wink, nudge nudge, know wha' I mean) sorry, had to throw in a bit of Monty Python humor...

On the other hand, my teacher and friend Kathy Gilkey likes to honor this day as "Singles Awareness Day". A day where one can reflect on the joys of being single. Spoil oneself exactly how one wants. How do you spoil yourself? GET A MASSAGE! You knew that was coming right? Take yourself out to dinner and a movie and enjoy that buttery popcorn all to yourself. Buy something you have always wanted instead of something you need. Go to your nearest Hallmark and read all the cards you want without spending a penny. Go on. You deserve it!

Whether you are snuggling with your sweetie or loving the single life, enjoy this day knowing that you are loved by friends, family and God.

"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance." ~Oscar Wilde

** Chinese Folklore**

~~The Legend of Magpie Bridge~~

The seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar (celebrated in the Western Calendar during the month of August) is known as Qi Qiao Jie or Chinese Valentine's Day. As is the custom elsewhere in the world, this is a day devoted to romance. There are many versions of the origins of Chinese Valentine's Day. This is but one of them involving the Goddess of Heaven and her seven daughters.
According to legend, during one of their visits to Earth, the seven daughters of the Goddess of Heaven caught the eye of a cowherder named Niu Lang. As the seven maidens were bathing in a river, they were observed by the youth who was determined to engage in a little fun and made off with their clothing. In order to retrieve their belongings, the sisters decided that the prettiest of them, Zhi Nu who was the seventh daughter, should ask the cowherder to return their clothes.

Since Niu Lang would thus see Zhi Nu unclothed, they pair had no choice but to marry. The couple lived very happily for several years. Then (dependent upon which version of the folktale is followed) Niu Lang either died, or the Goddess of Heaven simply became disgruntled with the absence of her seventh daughter ordered that Zhi Nu return to her home in Heaven. Whichever the case, the Goddess of Heaven took pity on the sweethearts and allowed them to be reunited once every year.

It is said that on this seventh night of the seventh moon, Magpies form a bridge with their wings in order that Zhi Nu might cross and meet with her beloved husband.

In China, this day is also known as "The Begging Festival" or "The Daughter’s Festival." It is an important day for girls. In the evening, they prepare melons and fruits prior to engaging in worship and praying that their wishes for a good marriage will come true.

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