August 1, 2023. This is the Seventh Night of the Seventh Moon, according to the Chinese calendar. This is the night that thousands of magpies will form a bridge over the ‘silver river’ between the Earth and Heaven, and re-unite two young lovers.
The Forbidden Love
Many, many years ago, in the celestial realms, the seventh daughter of the Jade Emperor broke the rules and gazed upon the Earth below. There, she spotted a young cowherd who had sacrificed himself to provide a proper burial for his late father. The seventh daughter became smitten with him, leading to a love that defied the laws of the heavens.
The Secret Marriage
Undeterred by the celestial laws, the seventh daughter, with the help of her six sisters sworn to secrecy, descended to the Earth. With the assistance of a wise Chinese scholar-tree acting as a matchmaker, she married the young cowherd. Despite their heavenly origins, their love transcended boundaries, and they lived as husband and wife on Earth.
A Price for Freedom
In their happiness, they bore two children, a boy, and a girl. But their idyllic life on Earth couldn’t remain hidden from the Jade Emperor forever. When he discovered the forbidden union, he demanded that the seventh daughter return to Heaven, or dire consequences would follow. To keep the lovers apart, he imposed a silver river, the Milky Way, between Heaven and Earth, impossible for them to cross.
Separation and the Silver River
The young cowherd and the seventh daughter were heartbroken by the separation. On opposite sides of the silver river, they longed for each other, their love bridged only by their memories.
Softening of the Jade Emperor
As time passed, the Jade Emperor’s heart softened with age. He realized that love, even across realms, could not be suppressed entirely. Though still cautious, he allowed a compromise. Once a year, on the Seventh Night of the Seventh Moon, the seventh daughter would be granted a brief reunion with her husband and children.
The Celestial Bridge Reunites
The Seventh Night of the Seventh Moon, on August 18th, marked the annual reunion of the celestial lovers. Thousands of magpies, moved by their love, formed a bridge across the silver river, allowing the seventh daughter to travel to Earth and reunite with her family.
The Celestial Harmony in the Sky
In the summertime sky, one can witness the celestial harmony symbolizing this timeless love story. The three bright stars, Vega, Deneb, and Altair, form The Summer Triangle, representing the seventh daughter, the cowherd, and their children. Two faint stars beside Altair symbolize the boy and girl. The Milky Way flows through them, resembling the silver river that once separated them.
In the spirit of this eternal love, may the Seventh Night of the Seventh Moon forever be a reminder of the power of love and the unbreakable bonds that transcend even the boundaries between Heaven and Earth. Xihuan!