BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- According to a Chinese folk love story, the Qixi Festival is the day when Niulang, a cowherd, and Zhinv, a beautiful weaver girl, meet annually. But in a modern society, celebrating the Qixi Festival may mean little more than spending money.
Retailers and shop owners have been ready for days, stocking up on flowers and offering tempting discounts on chocolate bars, shoes, jewellery and other romantic gifts. On Taobao.com, China's biggest online retail site, more than 550 thousand results return from a search for "Qi Xi Gift".
Whilst, to attract more visitors, the Beijing Garden Expo Park will tonight distribute 50 thousand roses to lovers who choose to visit the park.
Many young people say they accept Qi Xi as just another excuse to spend money and are not particularly concerned about the cultural meaning of the festival.
"It's nothing special. The festival is commercialized. Just some businessmen want to make more money."
Another interviewee says that the Western St Valentine's Day is more meaningful.
"Many movies give me the impression that the lovers' day in the west is more romantic."
The 2,000-year-old Qixi festival originated from a folk tale that a fairy called Zhi Nv married a mortal called Niu Lang.
Shortly after the Goddess of Heaven, who opposed their marriage, sent the couple to heaven as two stars, separating them by the vast Milky Way.
According to the story, magpies feel sympathy for the lovers and so they fly up to heaven every year to form a bridge. It is across this bridge that the lovers can reunite for a single night.
Couples who are separated by work or study, celebrate their love on the date of the lovers' annual reunion.
Qi Xi was listed as an intangible cultural heritage by China's State Council in 2006.
Xiao Fang, professor of Folklore Research Institute of Beijing Normal University says that Qixi is primarily about courting with expensive gifts.
"Qi Xi is not lovers' day. In the past, Qi Xi was an occasion to show someone…your skill, like sewing and making clothes. Nowadays, these are skills not in common usage. But you can make…a personalized gift."
Meanwhile, many who oppose a commercialized Qixi also confess a paradox; without commercial interest, the festival may well be forgotten and become a mere relic of the past.