Chinese Double Ninth Festival (Chongyang Festival)

Introduction

Falling on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, Chongyang Festival is also called the Double Ninth Festival. It is named as Chongyang Festival because according to the Chinese astrology, nine is a 'Yang' character meaning masculine or positive and 'Chong' in Chinese means double. As both the month and the day are nine, it got this name. To celebrate the day, people usually clime the mountains and enjoy Chrysanthemum, so the festival is also known as Height Ascending Festival or Chrysanthemum Festival. In China, nine has the similar pronunciation with the word meaning 'forever', symbolizing longevity. Therefore, the Chinese government set the day as the Seniors' Day.

Fast Facts about The Double Ninth Festival

Chinese Name: 重阳节Chóngyáng Jié
Alternative Names: Double Ninth Festival, Seniors' Day, Height Ascending Festival, Chrysanthemum Festival
Date: Sep.9th (Chinese Lunar Calendar)
Festival Type: Traditional Chinese Festival
Countries/Areas to Celebrate: China
Traditions and Customs: Showing respect to the seniors, Climbing mountains, Eating Chongyang cakes, Drinking chrysanthemum wine, Enjoying chrysanthemum and sticking chrysanthemum, Inserting Zhuyu (medicinal cornel)
Festival Food: Chongyang Cakes, Chrysanthemum Wine

Date of Double Ninth Festival

The Double Ninth Festival (Chongyang Festival) falls on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month (usually in October in Gregorian calendar). The following chart shows the exact times for the festival from 2018 to 2021:
Year Date of Chongyang Festival
2018 October 17th
2019 October 7th
2020 October 25th
2021 October 14th

Origin and History

The origin of Chongyang Festival is the sacrifice to the fire in ancient times. 
 
The festival has a history of over 2000 years. During the Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC), there has been Chong Yang Festival. But it was only celebrated in the imperial palace. From the Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), it began to be popular among the common people. The name of the Chongyang Festival first appeared in the Three Kingdoms Periods (220 - 280 AD). During Jin Dynasty (265 - 420 AD), there had been customs of enjoying chrysanthemum and drinking wines on the day. It was not officially set as a festival until the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD). Since then, all the people spend the festival with various activities. In Ming and Qing Dynasties, people in imperial palace all ate flower cakes to celebrate. The emperor climbed the mountain on the day as well. In 1989, the Chinese government set the day as the Seniors’ Day. 

Legend

It is said that during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220 AD), there was a devil of the plague in the Ruhe River. People living around the river suffered a lot from it. As long as it showed up, people would be ill or died. A man named Huan Jing living there almost died caused by this plague. His parents had been died because of this. After recovery, he decided to find the immortals to learn skills for killing the devil. He took a long journey, overcame many difficulties and found the immortal finally. Moving by him, the immortal taught him the skills to defeat the devil.

On the 8th day of the 9th lunar month, the immortal told Huan Jing that the devil would appear again the next day. He gave Huan Jing some Zhuyu leaves and some chrysanthemum wine and let him go back to kill the devil. After coming back, Huan sent everyone a Zhuyu leaf and a glass of chrysanthemum wine. On the 9th day, the devil emerged from the river and became dizzy at once on smelling the scent of Zhuyu and the wine. Huan Jing took his sword out and killed the devil at last. From that time on, climbing the mountain has become a custom to avoid the evil on the 9th day of the 9th month.

Traditions and Customs

Showing respect to the seniors, climbing mountains, eating Chongyang cakes, drinking wine, enjoying chrysanthemum, sticking chrysanthemum and inserting Zhuyu are main customs of the double ninth festival.

As September has the clear sky and fresh air, it is a very good time to climb the mountain. There will be a sense of exhilaration by climbing the mountain in this season. Also, it is good for health. Since the Western Han Dynasty(202 BC - 9 AD), it has been the custom of climbing on the Chongyang Festival.

On the day, enjoying the chrysanthemum are very popular as the flower symbolize longevity. The flowers are in full blossom those days. Many people will go to the park to enjoy its beauty. Drinking the chrysanthemum is regarded as a way to block off disasters and evil things. Sticking chrysanthemum and inserting Zhuyu are also traditions to avoid the evil as they have special smells which can repel insects and keep out the cold.

Eating Chongyang cake is another tradition on the festival. There is no fixed way of the cake but the one with nine layers with two sheep on it is the best. Two sheep means Chongyang. Nine layers indicate people could progress well in everything.

Today, the festival is mostly celebrated as the Seniors' Day. On the day, many activities are held to show respect to the seniors such as organizing a trip for them, sending them gifts and more.

More Traditional Chinese Festivals:

Chinese Spring Festival      Laba Festival      Lantern Festival      Dragon Heads-raising Day      Qingming Festival      Ghost Festival       Dragon Boat Festival         Mid-Autumn Festival      Double Seventh Festival      Winter Solstice

Chinese Calendar

SuMoTuWeThFrSa
25
十八/18
26
十九/19
27
二十/20
28
廿一/21
29
廿二/22
30
廿三/23
1
廿四/24
2
廿五/25
3
廿六/26
4
廿七/27
5
廿八/28
6
廿九/29
十一月 (Nov)
7
初一/1
8
初二/2
9
初三/3
10
初四/4
11
初五/5
12
初六/6
13
初七/7
14
初八/8
15
初九/9
16
初十/10
17
十一/11
18
十二/12
19
十三/13
20
十四/14
21
十五/15
22
十六/16
23
十七/17
24
十八/18
25
十九/19
26
二十/20
27
廿一/21
28
廿二/22
29
廿三/23
30
廿四/24
31
廿五/25
1
廿六/26
2
廿七/27
3
廿八/28
4
廿九/29
5
三十/30

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