Today is Chilseok (칠석), a day which celebrates a pretty, ethereal folk tale about young love, and which marks the end of the brutal heat and the coming of the rain. (Thank God.)
According to the old story – and there are, of course, many variations in the telling – the beautiful daughter of a king (I guess some sort of heavenly-being-king, not a normal human) falls in love with a poor shepherd boy. Her father is displeased with this match and orders the two lovers to live far apart – very, very far apart. He sends the shepherd boy to live on the other side of the Milky Way. Talk about an overprotective dad, huh.
The two lovers are obviously heartbroken, and they cry and cry and their tears flood the land. (The rain at this time of year is said to be their tears.)
Finally the father caves and says they can see each other just once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar (which explains why Chilseok is not on July 7th). In order for the two to reach each other across the Milky Way, all the crows and magpies fly up and create a bridge for the lovers to walk on and reach each other in the middle of the Milky Way on that special day.
Isn’t that such a beautiful image? Two young lovers walking across a bird bridge and meeting amongst the stars.
Fittingly enough, it rained today.
I love the rain.
Here are a couple more beautiful artistic interpretations of the story from two talented DeviantArt artists. (Japan and China also each have their own version of this legend, so some drawings reflect those stories rather than the Korean one.)