Feature: Messenger of traditional culture in China's "Valentine's town"
WUHAN, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- For Chen Yan, 21 and not having had a college education, becoming a cultural worker had never been on her agenda. But foregoing her job in the city to become a performer of her acquainted traditional culture has also stood to reason.
She puts on a bride's red robe and sits in a sedan chair at 10:30 a.m. every day. The wedding procession marches hundreds of meters down the street to the center stage of Shuangshigou Village, where she attends the traditional Chinese wedding ceremony with a "bridegroom" in front of tourists.
The village is under Yunxi County in central China's Hubei Province. Yunxi boasts its geographical relationship with the Qixi Festival, or the Chinese Valentine's Day, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, and celebrates the legend of the annual meeting between the mythological figures of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl.
The latest census shows that Qixi culture existed and was inherited in 18 townships under Yunxi. Shuangshigou preserves the ancient appearance of the village and highlights the traditional Chinese marriage customs.
Thursday marks this year's Qixi. After the wedding ceremony performance, Chen went back to the village's souvenir store and began peddling handicrafts. She also weaves at an old-fashioned loom in the store when she is not busy.
Chen is from a village near Shuangshigou. She left home when she was 15. Two years ago, her parents persuaded her to return as a tourism village themed on Qixi was being built. She has since found the job of "playing bride" with a monthly income of 3,000 yuan (about 442 U.S. dollars).
She said the income from working in the city was higher, but life was difficult and unstable. Seeing that her hometown was developing fast, she decided to go back, not only to be with her parents, but also to do her bit to demonstrate traditional culture to more people.
She got married not long after she was back, and now her son is almost one year old.
"My husband is still a migrant worker in the city. I hope that he will soon find a job back here, or maybe we can start a business together," she said.
As the summer travel season has come, she is particularly dressed up in her pink "hanfu"-- the traditional clothing of the Han ethnic group, sitting beside the loom or walking in the fields, adding a unique scene to the folksy village in the eyes of tourists.
Chen, after leaving school for so many years, picked up the book again and made plans to study traditional poems and mythologies related to Qixi.
Rao Huibing, an operator of the tourist village, said Chen is expected to grow into one of the village's first docents, telling Qixi stories and customs in front of tourists.