(ECNS) -- The annual Qixi Festival, also known as Qiqiao or Begging for Skills Festival, is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. It falls on Tuesday this year.
Referred to as the Chinese Valentine's Day, celebrations trace their origin back to the Han Dynasty(202 BC-AD 220).
Girls would engage in a variety of competitions to beg Zhinü -- a fairy who excels in needlework-- for wisdom, dexterity, and a satisfying marriage.
Threading a needle was a skill that a girl was required to master in ancient China. Historical accounts reveal that girls would race for the speed to thread seven-hole needles under the moon. The one who can thread the needles the fastest would be the winner.
Pleading for skills with cobwebs is another custom in the festival, in which everybody put a spider into a locket and waited to see it until the next morning. The one with a round cobweb of the most mesh will be the winner.
During the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), girls would also throw a sewing needle into a bowl full of water on the night of Qixi as a test of embroidery skills.
The water was a blend of water from a river or a well collected during both the day and night.
The preparation of this ritual commenced on the sixth day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The bowl and water were left outdoors overnight.
As noon or the afternoon of the seventh day arrived, anticipation reached the zenith of the "craftiness test."
If the needle floats on top of the water and its reflection took on various shapes, it proves the girl is a skilled embroiderer.