Qixi Festival 2013

Today Is Valentine's Day in China

In Beijing, a woman smiled at her silver heart balloon.

Well, it's not technically Valentine's Day, but today is the closest thing the country has in Chinese mythology. All day, love was on display for the traditional Qixi Festival, which is also called the Chinese Valentine's Day or the Double Seventh Festival. Each year, the celebration takes place on the seventh day of the seventh month, and this Tuesday's festivities had couples, flowers, and brides filling the streets. The festival originated with a Chinese folk tale about a fairy weaver maid named Zhinu who marries a mortal cowhand named Niulang. In the legend, the goddess of heaven is angry that the fairy married a mortal, so she creates the Milky Way to separate the couple. Once a year, though — on the seventh night of the seventh moon — all the magpie birds would fly up to heaven to make a bridge so that the lovers could cross over and be together for one day, and the sweet story inspired the Qixi Festival. Take a look at how people across China celebrated the day of love this year.