Double Ninth Festival
Origin of the Double Ninth Festival
The 9th day of the 9th lunar month is when the traditional Chongyang Festival, or Double Ninth Festival, takes place. It usually falls in October in the Gregorian calendar. In the mysterious ancient book Yi Jing, or The Book of Changes, the number "6" was thought to be of Yin character, meaning feminine or negative, while number "9" was thought to be Yang, meaning masculine or positive, so when the number nine appears in both the month and the day, this is the day of the Double Ninth Festival, or Chongyang Festival. Chong in Chinese means "double". Also, as double ninth is pronounced the same as the word to signify "forever", "Jiu Jiu", the Chinese ancestors considered it as an auspicious day worth celebrating. This is why the ancient Chinese began to celebrate this festival a long time ago.
Customs associated with the Double Ninth Festival
The custom of climbing to a very high spot at this time was passed down from long time ago and therefore the Double Ninth Festival is also called "Height Ascending Festival". The reason for this stems from ancient hunting methods, but gradually developed into becoming a recreational activity. The height people will reach is usually a mountain or a tower as is evident in many ancient poems written by well known literary figures who included the custom in their works. Even now, people still swarm to famous or little known mountains on this day.
On this day, Double Ninth Gao (or Cake) is the traditional food. In Chinese, gao (cake) has the same pronunciation with gao (height). There is no specific recipe of method to make Double Ninth Cake, but super cakes will have as many as nine layers.
The Double Ninth Festival is also a time when the chrysanthemum blooms. China boasts diversified species of chrysanthemum and people have loved them since ancient times so enjoying the blooming chrysanthemum also becomes a key activity during this festival. Also, people will drink chrysanthemum wine. Women used to stick such a flower into their hair or hang its branches on windows or doors to avoid contact with evil.
In 1989, the Chinese government decided that Seniors' Day would fall on the same day as the Double Ninth Festival. Since then, all government units, organisations and streets communities will organise an autumn trip each year for those who have retired from their posts. At the waterside or on the mountains, the seniors will find themselves merged into nature. Younger generations will bring the elders to suburban areas or send gifts to them on this day.
Date of Double Ninth Festival 2015: October 21, 2015