Qixi Fest - Reviving A Forgotten Festival
Qixi Fest (七夕乞巧嘉年华) is an initiative spearheaded by festival director Lynn Wong together with clan associations and community partners to revive one of the eight traditional Chinese festivals in Singapore – Qixi Festival (七夕节) – said to be once grander than Chinese New Year but has disappeared for over half a century. This will be the inaugural edition of the full-fledged Qixi Fest, which aims to reimagine the beautiful traditions of Qixi Festival passed down to us by our foremothers.
Event commemorating Qixi Festival on 3 August 2022, which drew over 100 members of the public to attend
"A Festival grander than Chinese New Year?
Why haven't I heard of it?"
Qixi Festival is traditionally celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. The myth behind Qixi Festival is that of the Weaver Girl (织女, symbolised by the Vega star), a fairy that fell in love with the mortal Cowherd (牛郎, symbolised by the Altair star). As their romance was forbidden by the Jade Emperor, they were banished to opposite sides of the Milky Way. They are only able to reunite across the stars every year on the day of Qixi Festival, on a bridge formed by magpies.
In Singapore, Qixi Festival was celebrated by our foremothers and women pioneers as early as the 19th century. The women formed sisterhood organisations called Seven Sisters' Associations, or Milky Way Associations, to celebrate the festival together. Customs include Qiqiao (乞巧), which is the practice of wishing upon the stars to become skillful in the arts, such as needlework and handicrafts. Qixi Festival was marked by grand public displays of handicrafts in Chinatown - especially those that involved Majies (妈姐, domestic servants) from the Shuntak region - but these traditions have disappeared since the 1970s as many Majies began to retire and returned to their hometown.
Regardless if you have heard of Qixi Festival before, we welcome you to join our programmes to find out more!
Ms Tan Ah Ngan, 88, who was a factory worker and joined a Seven Sisters' Association at the time, posing with an old photo of herself
Join us at Qixi Fest 2023!
This year, the inaugural edition of Qixi Fest will span across 7 weekends and launch on 7 July 2023. Look forward to a series of talks, workshops, exhibitions, and tours, leading up to a mega carnival at Smith Street on 19 and 20 August 2023.
Our programmes focus on three core themes:
(Her)Story - Celebrating the female migrants and pioneers who brought this beautiful festival to Singapore in the 19th century
Qiqiao (乞巧) - Reviving the wish-upon-the-stars custom that dates back to the Han dynasty through the skillful practice of arts and handicrafts
Sustainability - Growing our local heritage and arts ecosystem
Make a Wish Magpie -our signature programmes at Qixi Fest!