Every summer we can see this spectacular astrological phenomenon known as the Perseids or Saint Lawrence’s tears.
The main protagonist of this event is the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. This icy body element melts as it approaches our sun, leaving behind a trail of particles, which when crossing the Earth’s orbit at high speed (107,000 km/h) and the friction of air, produces this beautiful spectacle.
They are so known because their born point take place in the Constellation of Perseus.
Greek mythology tells the story of how the god Zeus managed to satisfy his whim for Danae, daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos.
Acrisius was warned by the great oracle that he was predestined to die at the hands of a grandson of his, and since we mortals believe that we can do more than what is already written for us, he decided to secure his only daughter from men, the beautiful Danae, who was condemned to spend her days locked in a bronze tower to avoid carnal contact that would bear fruit as the executor of his death.
Yet, one night, the great Zeus managed to sneak into the tower room taking form of a golden shower, in order to enter the beautiful young woman’s chambers and taste her charms. And of course, from this passionate rain precipitated in the womb of the princess the great warrior Perseus was born, this vigorous hero who would dare to cut off the head of the gorgon Medusa himself without being petrified before the gaze of her eyes.
In honor of this golden shower that originated Perseus the myth of the Perseids was born and passed along over the history.
Saint Lawrence’s tears
Christianity also join to the feast of the Perseids, but through the figure of Saint Lawrence, a Christian persecuted by the Roman Emperor Valerian whose tragic end was the bonfire. During his agonizing ordeal, which he obeyed with unwavering fortitude, he could not contain the tears. In the light of the fire, the saint’s golden tears fell to the earth in a similar way as the comet particles fall from the sky to the earth.
Saint Lawrence festivity takes place on August the10th, date that coincides with the peak of the Perseids meteor shower.
Another legend, the Xi-Qui myth
In China, because its calendar is governed by lunar months starting with the new moon, the days that a month contains may be 29 or 30. Therefore, the seventh day of the seventh month (August 7th) approaches the period of the astrological phenomenon at hand.
The Qi-Xi, can be translated literally as “The night of the Sevens”, “the Chinese day of Love” or “festival of the double seven.”
This legend speaks about Niulang, a young shepherd of very special cows, because they where the stars that graze the sky. One day our pastor ran into some fairies who were enjoying a swim in the lake. Niulang was a naughty and adventurous young man, and when he saw the fairies, he thought of nothing but stealing their dresses to see how their reaction.
When the fairies had cooled down and had to return to their chores, they were surprised to discover that their dresses were not where they had left them and looking at each other, they decided how to solve such an embarrassing problem since according to Chinese tradition, every man who saw a naked woman had to marry her no matter what.
The fairies finally decided that Zhinü, the youngest and most beautiful of the fairies, would go out to get their clothes back and face Niulang, and this is the way how the young shepherd and the beautiful fairy got married, being very fortunate because they came to love each other deeply, so much that from the first moment onwards, they took good care of each other and had together two children. Such was the dedication of the young lovers that Niulang forgot his task of shepherding the heavenly cattle, and the same happened to Zhinü, whose task was to weave clouds.
One day, the sky goddess, Zhinü’s mother, began to get impatient seeing that nobody shepherded the heavenly cattle anymore and the sky laked clouds, and enraged, tore the sky with a needle from top to bottom, creating in this way the Milky Way that remained right in the middle of our lovers, as a gigantic strip that separated them irretrievably.
With the majestic Milky Way in between, the sky goddess got Zhinü (the star Vega) to resume his work of weaving the clouds, while at the other side Niulang (the star Altair) along with their two sons, took care of the heavenly cows, and although she was happy because the cosmos was back in order, her mother’s heart suffered from seeing the sadness of Niulang and Zhinü’s longing to be together, so she decided that once a year, she would call the ravens of the earth to fly so that they would form a bridge between our shepherd and his fairy over the star Deneb in the Swan constellation.
Every year, when the feathers of the hundreds and hundreds of crows beat together to create the bridge, many of them rush to earth in the form of shooting stars, a sign that the shepherd and his fairy have crossed the bridge to enjoy and celebrate their eternal love together.