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Customs of the Double Ninth Festival

Customs of the Double Ninth Festival

  • Time of issue:2022-10-12 11:05
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Date

The 9th day of the 9th lunar month is the traditional Chongyang Fesrival, or Double Ninth Festival, is also called "Cornel Festival" and "Chrysanthemum Festival", which has a history of more than 1,700 years. It usually falls in October in the Gregorian calendar.

 

Name

In an ancient and mysterious book Yi Jing (The Book of Changes), 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 the number nine in both month and day creates "the Double Ninth Festival", or "Chongyang Festival".

 

Significance

In 1989, the Chinese government decided the Double Ninth Festival as Seniors' Day. The traditional culture of Double Ninth and that of the modern were finely combined. It becomes a festival of respecting for the old people, and loving, helping the old.

The ninth month also heralds the approach of winter. It is a time when the living need warm clothing, and filial Chinese sons and daughters extended this to make the festival a time for providing winter clothes for their ancestors. The Double Ninth Festival, therefore, also became an occasion to visit the graves of dead family members.

 

Traditonal customs of the Double Ninth Festival

 

01 Climbing Mountains

The 9th lunar month, with clear autumn sky and bracing air, is a good time for sightseeing. So people, both ancient and present, love to go sightseeing this month. 

 

Apart from expelling bad luck and disasters, climbing mounting also indicates “climbing to a higher position”, and it is also an important reason why ancient people pay much attention about this custom. Another reason that climbing mountains are valued by people, especially by the elderly is that is has a meaning of “climb to a longevous life”. Also for this reason people believe that climbing mountains can make people live a more longevous life.

 

It is really refreshing to climb mountains and enjoy the beauty of nature at this bright and clear time in autumn. Climbing mountains on Double Ninth Festival was already prevailing in the Tang Dynasty, and a lot of poems were devoted to this custom.

 

02 Enjoying Chrysanthemum Flowers

Chrysanthemum originated in China and was recorded in some Chinese books as early as the 5th century B.C. Chrysanthemum blossom in the ninth lunar month have a beautiful name of “flower of longevity".

 

03 Drinking Chrysanthemum Flower Wine

The chrysanthemum flower wine is unique in brewing. In ancient times,people usually picked fresh chrysanthemum flowers and leaves on the 9th of the 9th lunar month, and brewed the mixture of them and grains into the wine, which would not be drunk until the same day next year. The wine is said to have wholesome effects on sharpness of the eye, alleviation of headache, drop of hypertension, reduction of weight and removal of stomach trouble, thus contributing to longevity. It is said that the drinkers of the chrysanthemum wine would be free from evil and have strong physique against cold weather. 

 

04 Wearing Dogwood

The dogwood is a species of evergreen arbor; it is heavy-scented plant whose fruit is edible and stock and leaves can be medicinal materials. They can expel insects, get rid of the humidity, help digestion and cure inner heat. It puts out purple flowers in spring and bears, in autumn, purplish-brown fruit that is sour, puckery and mild in nature.

 

05 Eating Double Ninth Cake

The Double Ninth cake is also known as “chrysanthemum cake” or “flower cake”. It dates back to the Zhou Dynasty. It is said that the cake was originally prepared after autumn harvests for farmers to have a taste of what was just in season, and it gradually grew into the present cake for people to eat on the Double Ninth Day.

 

06 Flying a paper crane

Paper crane is just kite. According to our traditions and customs, flying kites usually happen at the Qing Ming Festival. But Tomb Sweeping Festival is during the rainy season which obviously is not suit for flying a kite, while Double Ninth Day owns clear autumn sky and crisp air making kite flying a best outdoor activity.

 

07 Family get-togethers

The Double Ninth Festival is also a time for family get-togethers. It is an occasion to remember one's ancestors, the sacrifices they made and the hardships they undewent. Often, family outings are organised during which people search to renew their appreciaiton of nature and to reaffirm thir love and concern for family members and close friends.

 

The Legend of Double Ninth Festival

The story can be dated back as early as East Han Dynasty, there lived an old Taoist named Fei Changfang, who had become an immortal after many years of practicing Taoism. A young man named Huan Jing, he was worship him and was learning the magic arts from Fei Changfang. The old Taoist took him in and taught him how to defeat the devil. Heng Jing put his whole heart into study and practice.

 

One day, the two were climbing a mountain. Fei Changfang suddenly stopped and looked very unpset. He told Huan Jing:" on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, disaster will come to your hometown. You must go home immediately. Remember to make a red bag for each one of your families and put a spray of cornel on every one. Then you must all tie your bags to your arms, leave home quickly and climb to the top of a mountain. Most importantly, you must all drink some chrysanthemum wine, Only by doing so can your families avoid this disaster."

 

On hearing this, Huan Jing rushed home and asked his family to do exactly as his teacher said. The whole family climbed a nearby mountain and did not return until the evening. When they got back home, they found all their animals dead, including chickens, sheep, dogs and even the ox. 

 

Since then, climbing a mountain, carrying a spray of dogwood and drinking chrysanthemum wine became the traditional activities of the Double Nith Festival, to avoid evils spirits and misfortunes.

 

 

(From Wuhan Immigration Service Center)

 

 

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