Double Ninth Festival (Chongyang Festival)

Chongyang Festival
Double Ninth Festival, also Senior’s Day, falls on October 23, 2023. On this day, people climb mountains and admire chrysanthemums. There is no holiday for this traditional festival.
Year Date of Double Ninth Festival
2022 October 4
2023 October 23
2024 October 11
2025 October 29
2026 October 18
2027 October 8
Held on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month, Double Ninth Festival is also called Chongyang Festival. In Chinese, nine is regarded as the number of Yang (which means masculine as opposed to Yin which is feminine). The ninth day of the ninth month is the day that has two Yang numbers, and 'chong' in Chinese means double which is how the name Chongyang was created. It is a day for people to eat Chongyang cake, drink chrysanthemum wine, climb mountains, and pay homage to chrysanthemums.

Festival Legend

Just as other Chinese festivals have their own unique story, so does the Double Ninth Festival. It is said that, during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220), a devil inhabited the Nu River which caused disease in the neighbouring people. The parent of a young man, named Hengjing, died because of the devil's magic. In order to rid the people of the devil, Hengjing went through extraordinary lengths to find an immortal to teach him swordsmanship in order to expel the devil.

On the eighth day of the ninth lunar month, the immortal told Hengjing that the next day the devil would appear and he was to go back to get rid of the devil and the disease. Taking a bag of dogwood and some chrysanthemum wine, Hengjing returned to his hometown. In the morning of the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, Hengjing led all the villagers who were each holding a piece of dogwood leaf and a cup of Chrysanthemum to the nearest mountain. At noon, when the devil came out from the Nu River, the devil suddenly stopped because of the fragrance emitted from the dogwood and the chrysanthemum wine. At that moment Hengjing used the sword to battle the devil for a few rounds and won.

Since then the custom of climbing mountains, drinking chrysanthemum wine and holding onto dogwood on the ninth day of the ninth month have become popular.

Double Ninth Festival Activities

Climbing mountains and admiring beautiful chrysanthemums are interesting activities that add to the Chongyang Festival creating a joyous atmosphere.

Climbing Mountain, a custom of Chongyang Festival
Climbing Mountain,
a custom of Chongyang Festival

It is said that by ascending to a high mountain, diseases could be prevented. Many widely-known poems were created by poets in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) describing the scene and feeling of mountain climbing. Now, family relatives or good friends gather to climb mountains to enjoy the beautiful scenery and share happiness of the holiday with each other.

As chrysanthemums blossom during the festival, it is a pleasure to admire the various chrysanthemums in parks. Grand chrysanthemum exhibitions are held in big parks that attract numerous visitors.

The custom as wear dogwood - a kind of plant that can dispel the disaster in people's  values – was popular in the old days. Women and children like to wear a fragrant pouch with dogwood sewed in. However, this custom is currently not very popular at all. During the festival, Chongyang cake and chrysanthemum wine is the traditional cuisine.

Double Ninth Festival Food

Chongyang Cake is a kind of steamed cake having two layers with nuts and jujube sandwiched between them. Since cake in Chinese is pronounced 'gao' meaning high, people consider climbing a high mountain to be the same as eating cake. Also personal progress is thought to be made in the following days after eating the cake, for 'high' means that one makes improvements moving to a higher level.

Drinking Chrysanthemum wine is an indispensable part of the festival. Chrysanthemums are regarded as a kind of flower having the function of an antitoxin and can drive the evil away. People often think that by drinking chrysanthemum wine, all kinds of diseases and disasters can be cured and prevented.

New Meaning of Double Ninth Festival

As nine is pronounced 'jiu' meaning long in Chinese, so people endow the word jiu with the meaning of longevity with a person's life. In the year of 1989, Double Ninth Festival was designated as Senior's Day - a day to respect the elderly and to let them enjoy themselves. Many companies organize groups where retired people can go out to climb mountains or on other outings. Members of a family also accompany their elders to have a relaxing day in a natural setting while wishing health and happiness upon them.
- Last updated on Oct. 31, 2022 -
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