It was the ancient sages’ belief that every human being’s life and fate had already been pre-arranged in a divine realm, intangible and invisible to the human eye. They understood that every single event that occurs in a person’s existence has been planned and predetermined.

According to an ancient East Asian legend, an invisible red thread connects people that are destined to meet – no matter how far away they are from each other, how far in the future the encounter is going to happen or its circumstances. The predestined encounter is inescapable, and those who are connected will meet multiple times throughout their lives without fail.

The red cord of destiny or “red thread of fate” is a belief shared among many East Asian countries, and it’s present in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese mythology and beliefs.

In Japanese and Korean culture, the invisible threat is thought to be tied by the gods around the little fingers of those who are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. On the other hand, in Chinese culture, the red thread is tied around the predestined ones’ ankles.

According to a very popular and ancient Chinese legend, the deity in charge of “the red thread” is believed to be Yuè Xià Lǎorén – often abbreviated to Yuè Lǎo – the old lunar matchmaker god, who is in charge of marriages. In one of the many where one could find out more about this legend, it is mentioned that the threat is “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread can stretch or contract, but never break.”

Statue of Yue Lao. (Anandajoti/Wikimedia/CC BY 2.0)

Even though many different variations of the same story exist, the one that is popularly told among children and youngsters alike is the following:

“Once upon a time, an emperor learned that in one of his kingdom’s provinces lived a very powerful witch. The enchantress had the ability to see people’s red thread of fate, and the emperor immediately ordered for her to be brought before his presence.

When the witch arrived, the emperor commanded her to look for the person whose pinkie finger was attached to the other end of his thread and take him to the girl who would be his wife. The witch agreed to this request and began to follow the long thread.

The search took them to a market, where a poor peasant woman holding a newborn baby in her arms was selling her products. When the witch reached the peasant woman, she stopped in front of her and asked her to stand up.

He called upon the young emperor and said, ‘Here ends your thread.’ Upon hearing the witch’s words, he became furious. He believed that the witch was mocking him, and in a fit of rage, he pushed the woman, who was still carrying her newborn baby in her arms. The infant fell, and due to the impact, a bruise quickly formed on her forehead. The emperor then commanded his guards to capture the witch and cut off her head.

Many years later, when the moment came for the emperor to get married, his court counseled that it would be best for him to marry the daughter of a very powerful general. He promptly accepted, and the day of the wedding swiftly arrived.

As the ceremony began, the emperor could finally see his wife-to-be. The bride gracefully entered the temple, dressed in a beautiful gown and a matching veil that completely covered her face. When the time to reveal her features arrived, the bride lifted up the veil, showing herself to her groom-to-be for the very first time. The moment the emperor saw his bride-to-be, he saw that her beautiful face had a very peculiar scar on the forehead.”

In today’s society, morality is declining – relationships are chaotic, and couples frequently fight and openly despise each other. In this toxic environment, divorce and infidelity are rampant. Maybe, the moral of this story will make modern couples understand that, since true love is predetermined, they owe each other mutual respect. The Universe requires it.


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