The Chongyang Festival, more commonly known as the Double Ninth Festival is a Chinese holiday that is held every 9th day of the 9th lunar month. This holiday is also called the Senior Citizens’ Festival. This is one of the many holidays that Chinese people enjoy and is also considered to be a day of fortune.
What is the Chongyang (Double Ninth) Festival?
What is the meaning of Chongyang? The term chong means double in Chinese characters. According to a book called Yi Jing, the number six is regarded as a feminine number and as the Yin character while the number nine is regarded as a masculine number and as the Yang character. Since 1989, this festival has been regarded as a senior’s festival to give a day dedicated to respecting the elderly people.
Some people have also called this festival the Height Ascending Festival due to activities related to mountain climbing for the day. Some even give it the name of Chrysanthemum festival because this flower is one of the main symbols for the day.
When is the Chongyang (Double Ninth) Festival?
This festival is always held on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month. What this means is that this year, people will be celebrating the Chongyang festival on October 14
What is the Origin of the Chongyang Festival?
The origin of the Chongyang festival can be traced back to a ceremony that started such a tradition as well as the history of the festival itself.
How Did the Chongyang Festival Tradition Started?
According to historians, the origin of the Chongyang Festival can be traced back to a Chinese ceremony where the star Antares (known as Dahuo during the ancient times) was worshipped. People studying the stars during that time noticed that Antares usually appeared in the sky during the beginning of spring but then it would shine brighter as the day of the Summer Solstice approaches.
They noticed that Antares moves to the west from July to September and is a sign of seasonal change. People were afraid of losing the brightness of this star since they were using its movement as a guide for their farming activities. Hence, they worshipped such a star wishing that it would always shine brighter for it to guide them.
What is the history of the Chongyang festival?
According to experts, the festival has been celebrated by the people for about two thousand years. But during the start, such ceremony was only celebrated by the royal families. There is even a folklore about the concubine of emperor Gaozu during the Han dynasty. Such concubine is said to have been framed by the Queen and was expelled from the palace. She was able to marry a commoner but told other people information about practices inside the palace.
Some of the things she said were that people in the palace wore the Zhuyu plant and also drank chrysanthemum wine so as to pray for the longevity of the double ninth day. These activities have become parts of the modern Chongyang Festival. Now, it has become a common tradition for Chinese people and is being celebrated on a yearly basis.
What is the Legend of the Chongyang Festival?
Another folklore about the legend of the Chongyang Festival is also popular among the people. It tells the story of a man named Hengjing who learned of a devil plague that appears to give disease to the people so that they would die. This young man decided to vanquish the devil. He learned of an immortal that lived in the mountain who could teach him how to get rid of the devil.
He then traveled across many mountains. But fortunately enough, he was able to meet the immortal who taught him swordsmanship that could defeat the devil. One day, the immortal informed Hengjing that the devil will be visiting his village during the ninth day. He was given the Zhuyu plant, chrysanthemum wine, and what he can do to expel the devil. So he went back to his village and told the people to wear Zhuyu plant, drink chrysanthemum wine, and climb the mountain where the devil was supposed to appear. When the devil appeared, it felt weak after smelling chrysanthemum and Zhuyu. Hengjing was then able to kill it with his sword.
And that is the legend of the Chongyang Festival. The activities that Hengjing made the villagers to do are the usual activities conducted by people for the modern day Chongyang Festival.
How to Celebrate Chongyang Festival?
There are so many different activities that people do to celebrate the Chongyang Festival. The most important of them are the following:
Making and Easting Some Chongyang Cakes
Of course, the celebration of such festival will not be complete without some foods dedicated for it. The Chongyang cake is a popular delicacy made for the day. it is a nine-layered cake that is shaped like a tower. It symbolizes highness.
Appreciating the Chrysanthemum Flower
The origin of the Chongyang Festival has the chrysanthemum flower a special part of it. And so, people celebrate the festival by decorating their homes with the flower. There is so much appreciation for this flower not just because it is one of the main symbols of the festival but also because of the beauty it has.
Drinking Chrysanthemum Wine
Drinking wine made from chrysanthemum flower is also an important staple activity during the Chongyang celebration. Almost all houses have this wine in their own home which families drink together and bond over.
Enjoying the Zhuyu Plants
The Zhuyu plant is yet another primary symbol during the Chongyang Festival. What people do with these plants is that they usually wear them around their arms. Some even make sachets containing the plant and then tie those to their waists as if they were waistbands.
Another staple activity for the day is mountain climbing. Lots of people go visit the nearest mountainous sites where they can enjoy climbing the mountains. Similar to drinking chrysanthemum wine and wearing zhuyu plants, mountain climbing became a staple activity because it was one of the main things considered about the origin of the festival.
Respecting the Elderly
As previously mentioned, the Chongyang Festival/Double Ninth festival is also known as the Seniors’ Day in China. Hence, people celebrate by paying respect to the elderlies.