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Today is Friday, and as China is still slowly coming back to work and China business news is thin, we’ll look at Valentines Day in China.
Valentines Day in China has, like Christmas, had a bit of a choppy ride. When TheBic first arrived in China, both were assigned minor bit parts in China’s great festival production. After all, China has Spring Festival and its own Lover’s Day – Qixi which falls July 7th in the Lunar calendar. As a movable feast ( much like Easter) it falls at different times in the western, solar calendar.
Chinese Valentine’s Day – Qixi.
Originally celebrated since the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) Qixi (cheeshee) is perhaps, a bit like Romeo and Juliette and other Star Crossed Lovers fables, legends or stories. As in all great fairy stories, (especially the romantic) a young Goddess fell in love with a mortal.
A cardinal sin!
When mother, Queen of Heaven, noticed daughter missing, she sent guards down to earth to forcibly return the daughter. However, it must have taken mum some time to notice her absence as, by the time Princess was returned she had produced 2 children.
Being mixed blood or hybrid, the children were abandoned on earth with their poor, grief stricken, heart broken father. We need to lay the pathos on heavy to justify the birds intervention. (next para)
To add insult to injury, the mother created the “Milky Way” (vast belt of stars) in the sky to prevent either of the couple from ever reuniting. However, as in all good weepies, a flock of birds took pity on the estranged couple, and, once a year, create a bridge in the sky on July 7th for them to briefly meet. And so it came to pass, that on this day ever since, Chinese couples celebrate their affection much the same way as the legend of St Valentine.
Well, sort of.
In China, Valentine’s Day comes with a twist. No, not lemon.
On February 14th, women give their partners presents of chocolates, as well as gifts that appropriately express their feelings. “
Men are expected to reciprocate a month later with white chocolates and gift. To indicate they are serious about the relationship, the present should be significantly more expensive or luxurious than the one they receive a month earlier.
This festival is, unsurprisingly and rather unimaginatively, called “White Valentines Day.” However, as it was conceived and created as a marketing stunt by the confectionery industry any lack of romance or creativity in the naming can be understood.
Let’s end this section on Qixi or Chinese Valentine / Lover’s day with a little: Did you know?
Now THAT is skill – it’s hard enough on a bright sunny day.
This article draws on multiple sources, image courtesy of:
Returning to Valentines Day in China
From a relatively unknown “Foreign” festival end of 1990’s as China developed and living standards rose, Valentines Day in China followed a similar path to that in the west. That is, along with Christmas, it became just another commercialised marketing opportunity.
Shortly after Xi’s ascension to China’s Presidency and a developing National Pride, the emphasis shifted from foreign festivals in favour of traditional Chinese culture. Although still celebrated they were now toned down.
So it was a little surprising to see something of a small rise in Valentines Day celebrations last Tuesday, Feb 14th as reported by Caixin Global in their image gallery:
China Celebrates Valentine’s Day
Feb. 14, 2023
Flower arrangements and heart-shaped decorations appeared in cities across the country in celebration of the holiday. In Shanghai, a giant rose installation on the Bund attracted curious onlookers and ended up trending on Chinese social media. China’s marriage registration offices also experienced a surge in visitors Tuesday as couples chose to make it official on this day to commemorate romance
Wait up a bit. Afore we become all dewy eyed and romantic, lets stop, and take a more cynical look at this. Under the new leadership direction, we have witnessed a slew of changes to previous policies. The most dramatic being of course the abolition of Covid Zero.
So, with China’s growth hovering dangerously close to recession we are seeing many new incentives to motivate or stimulate the domestic economy. Given that many of the Valentine’s Day installations around China this year appear to be local body instigated could it not be all part of a cunningly contrived plan to inject further opportunities for Chinese consumers to open their wallets a little wider?
OK, before we wrap this a couple of questions.
Do you have any legends, fable or traditional folk stories re Star Crossed lovers in your culture?
And what are your views on foreign cultures supplanting local ones? Let us know in the comments.
Thanks for reading, now, back to Fanfan.
Talk to Fanfan today about your China Social Media Marketing Plan.
A GenY or Millennial generation Ms Wang brings a fresh, modern, personally realistic viewpoint on how to reach this much coveted China consumer group.
Prior to helping start the Bicaverse, Fan studied Fashion Marketing at Manchester university. She has also travelled extensively across Europe.
A strong supporter of Chinese fashion designers Fan has a close network with many like minded China marketing professionals being instrumental in many of our client’s success.
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