The Double Ninth Festival
Also named Chong Yang Festival, which falls on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, hence the name of Double Ninth Festival.
According to Yi Jing, or the Book of Change, there are two opposing principles in nature called yin and yang, which are regarded as the basis of the Chinese world view. Yin refers to feminine and negative, darkness, while Yang refers to masculine, positive and bright. All the phenomena can be explained by Yin and Yang theory, even numbers is divided into two types, even numbers to be Yin but odd numbers to be Yang. The ninth day of the ninth month is a day when the two "Nine" meet, which is the highest single Yang number. That day also known as Double Yang (Chongyang in Chinese), has been celebrated from ancient times. "Nine" in Chinese is also pronounced the same "Forever", making the day truly auspicious one.
All the celebrations of Double Ninth Festival are held in autumn, and people think is a great day to enjoy the pleasant weather before cool winter coming. It is usually perfect for outdoor activities. Climbing the hills to get some exercise as well as enjoy the autumn scenery are the double purposes for people ascending the height. Ancient literary figures have left many poems depicting the activity. Even today, people still swarm to famous or little known mountains on this day.
Chongyang Festival is also a time when chrysanthemum blooms, so enjoying the flourishing chrysanthemum also becomes a key activity on this festival. From Song Dynasty, chrysanthemum show was held on Double Ninth Festival annually, displaying kinds of chrysanthemum in different shapes for watching and enjoying as ancient Chinese people though it could drive away evil spirits and prevent one from getting a chill in late autumn.
Traditional Food on Chongyang Festival is chrysanthemum wines and Double Ninth Gao (or Cake). Gao (or cake) has the same pronunciation with gao in Chinese (means high), made of rice and chrysanthemum, symbolizing the progress and promotion for the next year. The wine drinking on this day also made of chrysanthemum, to ward off evil spirits and misfortunes.
Another traditional activity is carrying a piece of dogwood, which is a plant with strong fragrance, often used in Chinese medicine. Ancient Chinese people believed it could drive away bad spirits and prevent from getting chill in late autumn, but this custom was slowly lost and only people in rural areas do that.
Double Nine also implies longevity in Chinese culture, so in 1989, Chinese government declared Chongyang as a day for senior citizens, showing the respect for elders and hope them live longer. Most elderly people on that day would highly enjoy themselves while younger generations would send the elders gifts with blessing.
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