The Double Ninth Festival – the ninth day of the ninth lunar month
The “Chong Yang Festival” is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, and it is as such known as the Double Ninth Festival.
Origins: The festival began as early as the Warring States Period (475 – 221 BC). According to the yin/yang dichotomy that forms a basis to the Chinese world view, yin represents the elements of darkness and yang represents life and brightness. The number nine is regarded as yang. The ninth day of the ninth month is a double yang day, hence the name “Chong Yang Festival”. (Chong means “repeat” in Chinese.) 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. Clothes made of paper would then be burnt as offerings.
Climbing mountains: On the Double Ninth Festival, people customarily climb mountains, appreciate chrysanthemum flowers, drink chrysanthemum wine, eat double-ninth cakes, and wear the zhuyu (茱萸) plant, Cornus officinalis. (Both chrysanthemum and zhuyu are considered to have cleansing qualities and are used on other occasions to air out houses and cure illnesses.). The Double Ninth Festival is also the “Old Men Festival”. Old people are especially meant to improve their health by taking part in the activities on the day of the festival.
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 underwent. Often, family outings are organized during which people search to renew their appreciation of nature and to reaffirm their love and concern for family members and close friends.