Tonight, we celebrate what we call a “Star Festival” in my culture. Its roots can be found in old Chinese writings – a story of star-crossed lovers (literally!) quite well-known in the Orient:
The Lord of the Heavens had a daughter who was very beautiful and a talented weaver living near the Milky Way. When she came of age to marry, he wished to find her the best man… and found a very good-looking and hard-working cow herder living nearby. They met and fell in love instantly. But they became so immersed in each other, they stopped working and caused great confusion in the Heavens’ clothing and food industries. The Lord became extremely upset and separated them on opposite sides of the Milky Way.
But as he watched his daughter cry all day and all night, he decided to allow them to meet up once a year, on July 7th, if they went back to working hard again. To this date, the lovers pray it would not rain on this day, so the water levels of the Milky Way would stay low and a flock of magpies (birds believed to bring in joy and luck) could spread their wings to form a bridge on which they could meet up. [my translation of a version most commonly known to my culture]
Origami decorations displayed at my dream home, with the daughter of the Lord of the Heavens and her weave-work on the right/top and her husband and his cow on the left/bottom.
In the olden days, this was the day to wish for girls to get better at household chores so they could find good men to marry well. But today, we take it to have a broader meaning, making it a day for everybody to wish for talent, love, and prosperity for themselves, family and friends. We write our wishes on colourful strips of paper and hang them on bamboos (plants believed to fend off evil and keep our wishes pure, and grow to the skies to send our wishes to the Heavens to make them come true).
Origami and paper craft decorations on and around bamboo displayed at my dream home… sorry the colourful strips of paper with wishes written on are not showing well, but I think you can see all other items: at the bottom, magpies and fan-shaped chain depicting the bridge they formed; bamboo shoots through the Milky Way (diamond-shaped chains) with a lantern (in the middle) lighting your way to your wish, the golden star; the bright green paper craft going around the bamboo is a net to make a big catch of your dreams.
Maybe not all wishes will come true.
But maybe if you formulate them into words, they will become more specific and detailed.
Maybe the path to make them come true will be more visualizable.
And maybe your feelings to fulfill them will grow stronger, making you try harder and longer.
Maybe only a handful of efforts will be rewarded.
But maybe if you do not give any effort, you will not even notice a chance when it presents itself to you.
Or maybe you will not have the means to grab hold of it, letting it pass by you.
Today, a countryman of mine took off to head out into space, realizing his boyhood wish to become an astronaut he continued to write on colourful strips of paper and hang on bamboos. Maybe not all wishes come true, and maybe only a handful of efforts will be rewarded, but he kept trying and finally attained his dream… good for him!
What wishes will you write on your colourful strip of paper tonight?
And at which shining star shall I wait for you to meet up?
Happy Star Festival to everyone!