Celebrations for Qixi Festival start with a bang

This Thursday (August 4) is Qixi Festival, also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day, which has been celebrated in China on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar for over 2000 years.

In Taiwan, festivities began early this year on Saturday night with Dadaocheng’s fireworks festival in Taipei, an event timed annually to coincide with the romantic holiday. Last year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, attendance at the festival was limited to 3,000 people but this year, with the limit lifted, a crowd of more than 100,000 crammed along the bank of the Tamsui river to witness the spectacle

Dadaocheng’s fireworks festival in Taipei saw more than 100,000 people cram along the river bank. Image: Mark Hanson

A short distance from the river, outside of Xiahai City God Temple on Taipei’s historic Dihua Street, a much smaller crowd also gathered to watch the fireworks.

This location is popular for would-be lovers throughout the year but sees a surge in visitors around Qixi Festival as it is home to a famous idol of Yue Lao, the love god of Chinese mythology. Idols of Yue Lao can be found at temples across Taiwan but the one on Dihua Street is the most renowned for its match-making ability.

In Taiwan, Qixi festivities began early with Dadaocheng’s fireworks festival. Image: Mark Hanson

By making offerings and performing the correct ritual, it is said that Lao Yue will tie a thread binding worshippers to their future partners. Qixi Festival is considered the most auspicious time to make such requests. As the impressive pyrotechnics display of the fireworks festival lit up the night sky, people could be seen snapping photos under the watchful eye of the temple’s guardian while others bowed and paid their respects.

Images and words courtesy of Mark Hanson

- Asia Media Centre