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Celebrate the Seventh of July

July 7, 2010

On the seventh day of the seventh month girls of Peking each take a bowl of water which they expose to the sun, and put in it a small needle so that it will float on the surface of the water. They then long watch the needle’s shadow at the bottom of the water. Sometimes it is diffused as if in the shape of flowers, sometimes in movement like clouds, sometimes fine like a thread, or sometimes thick like a stick. By this means they can predict each girl’s dexterity or clumsiness. (Thus a shadow thick like a stick would indicate the girl is clumsy at needlework, whereas one fine like a thread would show the reverse.) This is commonly called the laying down of needles. 

From “Annual Customs and Festivals in Peking”, Hong Kong University Press, 1965.

Sometimes I browse around the library, allowing my hand to rest upon books at random… there is no sun out today, but I think I have a fair idea of my dexterity and clumsiness.

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