Chinese love message in bottle washes up on Portobello beach

Nicola MacFarlane and her daughter Lucy found a message in a bottle on the beach at Portobello. Picture Ian Rutherford
Nicola MacFarlane and her daughter Lucy found a message in a bottle on the beach at Portobello. Picture Ian Rutherford
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A CHINESE love story telling the story of a forbidden romance between a pair of teenagers has washed up on the shores of Portobello.

The love letter was found by mother and daughter, Nicola MacFarlane, 41, and Lucy, four, from Portobello, who were beachcombing on Wednesday evening.

At first the mum-of-three, who creates art from driftwood found on the beach, thought Lucy had found just another old glass bottle.

On closer inspection, she realised that it contained a message from what she hopes is a pair of lovers on the other side of the world.

The pair hurried home and uncorked the clear bottle to reveal a sheet of elaborate brown paper containing Chinese script.

Unable to read the Mandarin text, Nicola instead turned to the internet and her Australian friend, Julie Gould, whose daughter she recalled attended a Chinese school in Sydney.

Several hours later at 3.30am, Julie returned with the news that it was in fact a love letter.

Nicola said: “I couldn’t believe it. Julie’s daughter, Siena, showed her friends a picture of the letter at school and the gist of it is that it was written on the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day. The couple are in love but cannot be together so they have sent the message to tell the world of their love.

“The girls couldn’t read it word for word so I’m still waiting for the Chinese teacher at the school to fully translate it.

“I’m blown away by it, to be honest.”

Chinese Valentine’s Day or Qixi Festival as it is more traditionally known, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month; this year it fell on August 23.

Whether the message has travelled more than 5000 miles from China or whether it was penned by a lovestruck pair much closer to home remains unclear.

But for Nicola the one thing that is very clear is the poignant sentiment. She added: “I really do hope that it is from China but even it is from nearer to home, it’s still a lovely gesture and an inspiring find. It’s a love story regardless of where it came from.”

In May 2008, a message in a bottle turned up on a Hebridean beach after completing a 4000-mile sea journey from the Bahamas.

The bottle was cast afloat on June 26, 2006, by American holidaymaker Crista Ryan and found by Alec MacLean on Crossapol Beach, Tiree.

In August 2008, Donald Wylie was reunited with a message in a bottle he launched into the sea from Orkney aged 11 in 1985. It was found at St Andrews.

Traditon not confined to February 14

VALENTINE’S Day is a popular celebration in China – although traditionally it is not held on February 14th.

Instead, the day falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar – the so-called “Chinese Valentine’s Day” or the Qixi Festival. It commemorates a day on which a legendary cowherder and weaving maid were allowed to be together. The idea of writing love letters and throwing them out to sea in bottles in not a specific Valentine’s tradition, however.

Modern Valentine’s Day is also celebrated on February 14 each year, and generally it is tradition for the man to give flowers, chocolates or both to the woman he loves.