Its Chinese valentines Day today! A day when lovers across the middle kingdom, celebrate their love for each other. While the day espouses no real significance and isn’t a red-letter day, it is increasingly becoming a Hallmark Holiday. As commercialization sweeps across China, boys are forced to buy their girlfriends expensive gifts to show their love. A bouquet of a 100 flowers, romantic candlelit dinners and chocolates are now the norm. In a society where there are seven girls to every ten male children, the competition is intense.
Women are wooed, wowed and woefully spoilt in China. In Shanghai, the commercial capital, men are seen carrying around women’s purses since its too heavy a burden for them to carry themselves. They also do most of the housework including grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning the house – catch any Indian man doing that! Additionally, as pressures heat up to reproduce and not allow China to grow old before it really gets rich, women put in strict caveats to marriage. A true blooded yellow-skinned, Chinese man must be well equipped with a house to his name before he can even think of popping the question to his amorous lady. If he can throw in a few credit cards and a car – no lesser than a BMW or Audi it might give him better chances of swiping her.
It’s a debate that’s long been raging amongst the urban elite in large Chinese cities – is this all getting a bit too commercial? After all where is the love? With divorce rates tripling in the Middle Kingdom, is buying your wife or girlfriend that gold pendant really worth it? Sure mistresses and extra-marital affairs are a lot more promiscuous than they are in India, yet many urban yippies adore the commercial aspect – especially because a half of them benefit from the clause.
Yet, China does face a dilemma, – educated, well to do women don’t want to settle with just any man, he has to be educated, with an international bent of mind and yet rooted – having his own house is a trump card in, but doesn’t really guarantee him anything. Dating websites are abuzz as are arranged marriage aunties who try to find the lovelorn their right partner. Just as in India, stars are consulted and birth charts peered over, Chinese astrology experts called in and only then the two paired, yet today’s young, urban Chinese find it extremely difficult to find someone to love for the rest of their lives.
Chinese valentines day also known as Qixi is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. The legend behind it is – Niulang, a shepherd falls in love with goddess Zhinu, the youngest daughter of the celestial Jade Emperor. They get married in the hope of living happily ever after. In walks the “villain”, Zhinu’s godfather. He separates the two lovers, allowing them to meet only on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, or Qixi, which today we know as Chinese Valentine’s Day.