For the Chinese holiday Qi Xi (pronounced “chee shee”)—often called Chinese Valentine’s Day—people gather for stargazing and retelling an ancient love story: the tale of a young celestial weaver Zhinu and her cow-herder beau Niulang eternally separated by Zhinu’s meddling mom. Long ago, women would visit a temple and pray to find their soul mate. Today’s celebrations involve flowers, barbecues, presents and even speed matchmaking dating events.
Dating back more than 2,000 years, the holiday takes place each year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. The myth refers to two distant stars—forever separated by the Milky Way, a slash in the sky made by Zhinu’s angry mother.
Catch Qi Xi: A Chinese Love Story, a four-act production presented by the Chinese Fine Arts Society (Millennium Park, Cloud Gate, 55 N Michigan Ave, 312-369-3197, chinesefinearts.org; 2:30–4pm, free). Vibrant costumed dancers, opera singers and martial artists from All Star Kung Fu, Cheng Da Percussion Ensemble and Chicago Chinese Cultural Center’s Lion Dancers perform the fairy tale. “We figured that this was a beautiful story that lends to the architectural backdrop to Millennium Park,” says Chinese Fine Arts Society board president Julie Tiao Ma.
At the Qi Xi After Party, the audience can mix and mingle with the cast over hors d’oeuvres and enter a raffle to win two round-trip airline tickets to Shanghai or Beijing (Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E Washington St; chinesefinearts.org; 4:30–6:30pm; $15, advance $12, kids 11 and under $7).