BEIJING, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Ye Ling, a college student in Nanjing, got a present delivered to her doorstep Monday morning, a watch for China's Valentine's Day sent by her boyfriend from faraway Gansu Province.
Her boyfriend Liu Le, a medical student, sent the gift on his way to Zhouqu in the northwest Gansu which was hit by a catastrophic mudslide. He went there as a volunteer.
"I ordered the gift online when I was transferring in Lanzhou (capital city of Gansu)," Liu said.
Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine's Day, falls on Aug. 16 this year according to the lunar calendar.
The festival originated from a folk tale that a fairy called Zhi Nu married a mere mortal called Niu Lang and had two children. But the Goddess of Heaven was against their marriage and when they ascended to heaven as two stars, she separated them by the Milky Way.
But, according to the story, magpies felt sorry for the lovers and so every year fly up to the heaven to form a bridge, so that the lovers can reunite for a single night.
Moved by the story, Chinese began to celebrate love on the date of the couple's annual reunion since the Han Dynasty (202 B.C. to 220 A.D.). In 2006, Qixi was listed as an intangible cultural heritage by China's State Council.
Now as many couples are separated by work or study, people have begun looking for their modern "magpie bridge" to unite them in virtual space, enabled by the Internet.
Jin Jing, a magazine editor based in Beijing, 26, planted "a tree of love" in her virtual garden, a game application on the social networking site, Kaixin001.com.
"My husband is working in Shanghai, and I wanted to give him the tree as a Qixi gift. I miss him."
Special Qixi gifts have been on Kaixin001 since Aug. 10, and users can plant "lover fruits" or "heart-shaped tree root" in their online gardens.
Lu Hua, a graduate student in Beijing, sent his girlfriend, who is pursuing a doctorate degree in Hong Kong, a MSN text to wish her happy Qixi Monday morning.
Lu said he and his girlfriend celebrated the day by watching movies and TV series online simultaneously, and then exchanged ideas online by chatting via video.
On the micro-blog on sina.com.cn, Qixi has topped today's topic list. Tens of thousands of bloggers expressed their views of scenarios they believed as the most romantic.
A blogger identified as Kaka0403 said, "I think talking with my husband through online video is the most romantic thing, because I can see his smile and hear his voice."