What Is Double Ninth Festival In China?(Chongyang Festival)

With one of the richest cultural profiles and history, China is easily the best place for anyone fascinated with human cultures and history to visit. And attending one or a few of the many festivals celebrated by the Chinese people would be the easiest and also the best way for you to learn more about the Chinese culture and people.

Today, we’ll take you through one of the important Chinese festivals, the Chongyang Festival. So, keep reading to learn more about this festival.

What Is Double Ninth Festival?

The Double Ninth or the Chongyang Festival is one of the Chinese festivals that showcase the richness of the country and its people. On this day, people eat, hike, and drink to celebrate the elderly people in society.

The festival is one of the ancient memorial festivals, and all across China, families visit their ancestors’ graves to pay their respects to them. The festival also involves climbing the mountains, eating Chongyang cake, as well as drinking tea or wine from the chrysanthemum.

This festival is not only celebrated in China but also in Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong. However, only Macau and Hong Kong have public holidays on the day of the festival.

Note that for the Chinese people, the number 9 is considered one of the Yang numbers, and so, on the 9th day of the 9th month on the lunar calendar, also called the double ninth day or Chongyang – which is where the festival gets its name from, the Chinese and other Asian people celebrate the day. According to the Chinese Fengshui, yang is a symbol of auspiciousness, which makes the Double-Ninth Day a great day.

When Is Double Ninth Festival?

This festival is always on the same day of the lunar month calendar – the 9th day of every 9th month. And this year, the festival will take place on Tuesday, 4th October 2022.

Why Is The Double Ninth Festival Celebrated?

The reason for the big celebrations around the Double Ninth Festival, a festival that has been held consistently for more than 2000 years from the Warring States Period, is to honor the souls of the departed, including the ancestors. So, on the day of the festival, the Chinese people visit the graves of their ancestors to be able to pay respects to their souls. And in Macau and Hong Kong, the festivities feature entire extended families visiting the ancestral graves, where they repaint the inscriptions and also layout food offerings to the ancestors. Foods laid out often include fruit and roast suckling pig. The foods are eaten by the people after the ancestors consume the food’s spiritual elements.

Double Ninth Festival History

Legend has it that the festival dates back to 25-220AD during the reign of the Eastern Han Dynasty when there was a devil plague. This plague infested the Ruhe River, and as long as this plague showed up, people would get sick, and many died.

One man (Huan Jing) understood the pain from the plague all too well after losing his parents to this plague, and so he decided to travel all the way to the Zhongnan Mountains. Here, he learned all he needed to know about how to defeat the plague demon. After the training, he was given a rather magic sword with the power to defeat the plague demon. In addition to the sword, he also received chrysanthemum wine, as well as the zhuyu plant. He also learned that the devil returned to the village every lunar year on the 9th month, specifically on the 9th day.

With this knowledge, he went back to his village, where he advised the villagers and told them that on the day the demon visited, they were to hike up the mountain for their safety, and they also needed the zhuyu plant along with chrysanthemum wine. These two would protect them. The next time the devil visited from the river, the wine and the zhuyu plant weakened him, and this allowed Huan Jing to kill it.

From that time, the Chinese have stuck to hiking mountains, wearing the zhuyu plant, and also drinking the chrysanthemum wine on the Double Ninth Day/ Festival.

What To Do On Double Ninth Festival

Chongyang cakes

The Chinese Double Ninth Festival is marked by the following activities or traditions:

  • Hiking the mountains – this is one of the common traditions that’s been upheld for centuries during the CHongyang festival. The locals are encouraged to hike the mountains on the day as a way of honoring nature and sending or warding off evil spirits. This has also been one of the things that are done every year during the festival, and it is why some people know the festival as the Mountain Climbing Festival.

Note that there are no rules on this or how high up the mountains people should hike, so as long as you reach some altitude, it’s okay. For this reason, most people only climb up the high pagodas or hills.

  • Eating Chongyang cakes – Chongyang is the traditional Chinese food that is enjoyed on the day of the Double Ninth Festival. Note that this cake also goes by the name, flower, or chrysanthemum cake or the 5-color cake to others. The cake is traditionally made into 9 layers, just like the pagoda, and it’s often decorated with red paper flags, also called the dogwood or the Zhuyu plant. Today, the cakes eaten are softer.
  • Wearing the Cornels or Zhuyu – people would, in the past, wear the cornels on their heads, arms or pockets because the cornels were believed to have the power to drive out the evil spirits and to protect them from disasters.
  • Drinking chrysanthemums and admiring the chrysanthemums – This is also an important part of the celebrations, especially because the chrysanthemums are a symbol of honorable character and longevity.

How To Celebrate Double Ninth Festival

Celebrating the Double Ninth Festival allows you to appreciate the best of Chinese culture. The day’s festivities include caring for the elderly people in the society, eating the most auspicious foods to drive danger out, and also enjoying outdoor activities like hiking. You can also be fully a part of these celebrations by wearing the cornels or the zhuyu plant.

Double Ninth Festival Foods

The most common foods that are enjoyed during the festival include the Chongyang cakes and drinking chrysanthemum teas or wine.

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