This Friday, 17th of August 2018 marks the most romantic of all traditional Chinese festivals – Qi Xi (pronounced chee-shee) also called Double Seven Festival, Night of Sevens, Magpie Festival or Young Girl’s Festival.
It is a special day which is often compared to the Western world’s Valentine’s Day, with couples declaring their love and showing their devotion to each other.
In this MultiConnexions blog, MCX PR & Social Media Manager Katrina looks at some frequently asked questions about this traditional holiday.
Who celebrates and where?
Qixi is a traditional Chinese festival which is widely celebrated by the Chinese diaspora both in China and around the world.
What do they do?
Traditionally, women in South West China would celebrate by painting their toenails and washing their hair with tree sap. In Southern China, weaving small crafts with coloured paper, grass and thread was the tradition. Another Qixi tradition is for girls to toss a sewing needle into a bowl of water. If the needle floats, the girl was supposedly skilled in embroidery.
However in modern times, romantic Chinese couples will typically go on dinner dates and exchange flowers and cards. Gifting is increasing in popularity with last year seeing a marked uptick in online keyword search results around 2 weeks before the date – particularly from men seeking to treat their female partner by sending online gifts.
What is the story behind the Festival?
While there are many different legends and traditions that surround this festival, the most common iteration of the story is that The Goddess of Heaven used a hairpin from her hair to create a divide in the sky to separate the lovers Niulang (the cowherd) and Zhinü (the weaver girl) from reuniting as their love was forbidden – drawing obvious comparisons to the tale of two other star-crossed lovers – Romeo and Juliet. Once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers for one day – Qixi.
Interestingly, this story also serves as an explanation for the Milky Way/ Galaxy with many peoples in Eastern Asia traditionally believing that the hazy band of stars visible in the sky was the silvery river of heaven separating the lovers.
What is this marketing opportunity? Why and how should a brand get on board?
Increased spending on gifts – especially online – is increasingly a hallmark of Qixi Festival, with 86 percent of non-singles in China making their purchases before the festival last year according to data from Alibaba’s e-commerce platform.
For a brand wishing to capitalise on the increased spending and consumption during this period, there are opportunities for Qixi marketing campaigns, overlaying messaging about Qixi in comms, digital marketing strategies and more.
Last year, Burger King China – a popular destination for young Chinese couples going on dates – offered a special discount meal on Chinese Valentine’s Day: a burger, a fried chicken thigh and a smoothie.
Dior and Bulgari both hosted limited-time, special-edition Qixi sales on WeChat last year to great effect. Another campaign from handbag brand Mulberry touched on the theme of the flock of magpies reuniting lovers with great sensitivity and respect, with their Qixi competition offering a prize of tickets to travel to see your loved one.
Interested in tapping into increased spending among Chinese during Qixi for your next campaign? Contact MultiConnexions today.
For further information on Qixi and other romantic Chinese holidays, read our earlier blog, The Business of Love by MCX Media Director Marija Kovacevic.