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Chinese Valentine's Day to Be Held in Lijiang

The first Lijiang (Suhe) Chinese Valentine's Day will be celebrated twice this year on July 31 and August 30 in the small town of Suhe near Lijiang in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Both dates are the seventh day of the seventh lunar month called "Qixi" in Chinese because this year there is a "leap month" on the Chinese lunar calendar.

This will be the 12th time in the past 2,000 years that Chinese people celebrate two "Qixi" in a year, according to the festival's organization committee.

"Qixi" is regarded as the Chinese Valentine's Day because legends say the Cowherd (Niu Lang) and the Weaver Maid (Zhi Nu) separated by jealous deities could meet on that night via a bridge formed by magpies.

On the festival's opening ceremony on the night of July 31, tourists will be invited to join local folk singers in a singing contest of love songs at the central square of Suhe, a newly developed tourist attraction that features traditional Naxi wooden houses in courtyards.

Tourists can get a "Love Passport" for 50 yuan (US$6.20) each at the town and search for nine "Love Castles" featuring different themes.

The passports in seven different colors represent couples, families, singles and other identities. The passports can provide discounts at Suhe's restaurants, bars and stores.

Romantic couples can also arrange for wedding photo sessions at Suhe, featuring the local Naxi, Tibet, Yi, Bai and many other minority traditional costumes.

The Naxi Dongba shamans will also chant scriptures and perform other rituals for visitors' weddings.

Yang Yiben, vice-mayor of Lijiang, said when the local government prepared the festival earlier this year, they discovered there will be two "Qixi" this year.

"This is a romantic coincidence," said Yang at a ceremony to sign a co-operation contract with the China Travel Service Head Office this February.

"We hope that the Chinese Valentine's Day will gain more attention and that all the betrothed in the world will be happy forever," said Yang.

Mo Yueming, president of China Travel Service, one of the leading tourist agencies in China, pointed out that "Qixi" embeds the Oriental classic romance, which has gained increasing attention in the past few years.

"Lijiang has a quiet and peaceful environment, colorful ethnic cultures and highly developed tourist facilities," said Mo, adding that his company will co-operate with the Lijiang government on every "Qixi" from now on.

(China Daily July 24, 2006)

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