Dos and Don'ts for Chinese Valentine's Day
It's Saturday morning, and suddenly you find yourself on the receiving end of the cold shoulder from your girlfriend. She didn't care particularly for your question, "what do you want to do today, honey," or to your answer to her question, "what are we doing today?" Wrong answers include "I'm playing football all day," "I'm getting drunk with the guys tonight," or perhaps worst, "Nothing." Welcome to Qixi, the most important day on the Chinese dating calendar.
"It's quite an important day. Traditionally this was Chinese Valentine's Day, and it's still the most traditional of the Chinese dating holidays," said Alex Edmunds, co-founder of dating website Coucou8.
The holiday, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar (what, you don't follow the lunar calendar?), derives from a Han Dynasty legend of star-crossed lovers who are only able to spend 24 hours together each year on this day, courtesy of a bridge formed by a flock of magpies. Yeah, whatever.
Foreign guys dating Chinese women ignore the holiday at their peril. "They'll definitely be in the doghouse for a week. If he has plans or is away on business, he'd better send chocolates and/or flowers, at least," Edmunds said.
Despite being a traditional holiday, there is no particular protocol, but you must take your significant other out, the day should be about her (or him). "It goes a long way to showing you care," Edmunds said. He also recommends "making dinner reservations as early as possible. McDonald's is only serving fish these days."
For those who have not found their love at the end of a magpie bridge yet, Coucou8 is organizing its own Qixi Valentine's Dinner Party for Saturday night, where nine men and nine women will enjoy a three-course dinner and a margarita at Cantina Agave. After each course, the men will move to another table, giving all participants the opportunity to meet and talk with each other. Think of it as slow speed-dating. There are still two spaces remaining for men, RSVP here.
For more Qixi options, see our guide to Chinese Valentine's Day events.
To brush up on what you're probably not doing right (if you have a Chinese girlfriend, that is), find out what bothers Chinese women most about their foreign boyfriends here.