Double Ninth Festival: Celebrating Tradition and Filial Piety in China

The rich tapestry of Chinese culture is interwoven with a multitude of festivals and traditions that have been celebrated for centuries. Among these, the Double Ninth Festival stands as a testament to China's reverence for its history and values.

This festival, also known as Chongyang Festival (in Chinese: 重阳节), holds a special place in the hearts of the Chinese people, as it embodies the twin themes of familial love and cultural heritage.

The Double Ninth Festival's history is examined in this article along with its significance in terms of filial piety and a closer examination of the customs and traditions that surround it.

What is Double Ninth Festival?

In China, there is a long-standing tradition of celebrating the Double Ninth Festival, which occurs on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Families gather to celebrate and show their love for one another on this auspicious day since it is thought to bring luck and fortune.

One of the tenets of Confucian ethics, Filial Piety, emphasizes the value of honoring and taking care of one's parents and elders. A suitable venue for showcasing this virtue through sincere deeds and passionate gestures is the Double Ninth Festival.

Doule nineth festival foods and wines

What is Filial Piety and Why is it Important in Chinese Culture?

Filial piety, or "xiao" (孝) in Chinese, has held a central role in Chinese society for centuries. It emphasizes the duties and responsibilities children owe to their parents, ancestors, and elders. The Double Ninth Festival provides an ideal platform to express filial piety through activities that honor and support the elderly. >> Recommended Private Guided China Tours for seniors

Because of this, mountain climbing is a common custom during this festival, signifying the rise to a better and healthier existence. The physical act of climbing a height reflects the moral and emotional rise of preserving family ties and treating elders with respect.

Origins of the Double Ninth Festival

The Double Ninth Festival has its origins in prehistoric China. There are three theories as to the origin of the Chongyang Festival.

The first theory is that the Double Ninth Festival gained its name from the Yang number of nine in the Yi Jing, or the Book of Change, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).

According to Yi Jing, 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.

The second origin story of the Double Ninth Festival is that before the pre-Qin period, there were sacrifices to the Emperor of Heaven and ancestors on the occasion of the September crop harvest, and the custom of seeking longevity on the Chongyang Festival also existed at that time.

The third theory is that it originated from the sacrificial rituals, as it is still customary in southern China to offer sacrifices to the stove on the Chongyang Festival.

Chinese Double Ninth Festival Dates (2023-2025)

YearGregorian DateLunar Date
2023October 289th day of the 9th Chinese lunar month
October 16
9th day of the 9th Chinese lunar month
2025 November 4
9th day of the 9th Chinese lunar month

How do People Celebrate the Double Ninth Festival in China?

The Double Ninth Festival is a time of cultural and historical significance that is celebrated with great fervor. It is an autumn festival, perfect for outdoor activities, and is seen as a great day to enjoy the pleasant weather before the cool winter season arrives. Families come together on this day to engage in a variety of activities that pay homage to their heritage and the virtue of filial piety.

1. Mountain Climbing

One of the most popular activities during the Double Ninth Festival is mountain climbing. Climbing to higher altitudes on this day is believed to help ward off misfortune and promote good health. Many people see it as a way to connect with nature and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It is also a great opportunity for exercise and adventure.

Chinese Double-nine Festival

2. Enjoying Chrysanthemum

Another key activity during the Chongyang Festival is enjoying the blooming chrysanthemums. Since the Song Dynasty, chrysanthemum shows have been held on the Double Ninth Festival, displaying different types of chrysanthemums in various shapes. Ancient Chinese people believed that chrysanthemums could drive away evil spirits and prevent one from getting a chill in late autumn. Therefore, the flourishing chrysanthemums are a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

3. Double Ninth Festival Foods

Like other Chinese festivals, the Double Ninth Festival has its own culinary delights. Traditional Chinese food on the Chongyang Festival includes chrysanthemum wines and Double Ninth Gao (or Cake). Gao (or cake) is made of rice and chrysanthemum and has the same pronunciation as gao in Chinese, which means "high." Therefore, it symbolizes progress and promotion for the next year. The wine drinking on this day is also made of chrysanthemum with medicinal properties to ward off evil spirits and misfortunes and fortify the body against ailments.

4. Community Gatherings

Beyond the family unit, communities often organize events such as cultural performances, martial arts demonstrations, and communal feasts. These gatherings foster a sense of unity and shared celebration. Additionally, they provide an opportunity for people to connect with their neighbors and contribute to the community's overall well-being.

Preserving Double Ninth Festival Traditions for Future Generations

We must save the Double Ninth Festival's customs for future generations because it is one of China's most important festivals.

One way to keep the Double Ninth Festival tradition alive is to educate young people about the importance of filial piety and respect for elders. By doing so, we can ensure that the festival continues to serve as a bridge between generations, allowing elders to impart their wisdom and younger members of the family to learn from their experiences.

Moreover, it is critical to acknowledge the Double Ninth Festival's significance as a representation of Chinese ancestry. The event continues to be a persistent anchor that ties people to their roots while industrialization and globalization continue to transform society.

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