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Timeless Traditions: Exploring the Customs of the Double Ninth Festival

Double Ninth Festival

The Double Ninth Festival, also known as Chongyang Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. With a history dating back over 2,000 years, it holds cultural significance and is widely observed in China and other East Asian countries.

History of the Double Ninth Festival

The festival can be traced back to the Warring States period (475-221 BC) and gained prominence during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). Legend has it that a wise man advised a villager to ascend a mountain on the ninth day of the ninth month to escape an impending calamity. This practice of climbing mountains became a popular tradition during the festival.

In ancient Chinese culture, the number nine was considered Yang, representing positive energy and good fortune. The ninth lunar month, falling between the autumn and winter seasons was associated with yin energy, which was considered inauspicious. Therefore, people believed that by participating in activities like climbing mountains and wearing the zhuyu (dogwood) plant, they could ward off misfortune and bring blessings into their lives.

Over time, the Double Ninth Festival evolved to include other customs and activities. The appreciation of chrysanthemums became a prominent feature during the festival, as these flowers bloom in abundance during the ninth month. Chrysanthemums were admired for their beauty and were believed to have medicinal properties, symbolizing longevity and vitality.

In 1989, the Chinese government officially designated the ninth day of the ninth lunar month as the Double Ninth Festival, highlighting its cultural significance and encouraging its celebration.

Traditional Customs of the Double Ninth Festival

These practices have been passed down through generations, adding to the richness and cultural significance of the festival.

Climbing Mountains

One of the most popular customs of the Double Ninth Festival is mountain climbing. People of all ages gather to ascend mountains, hills, or even local scenic spots. This activity not only promotes physical fitness but also symbolizes overcoming obstacles and reaching new heights in life.

Chrysanthemum Appreciation

Chrysanthemums are the symbolic flowers of the Double Ninth Festival. People visit chrysanthemum exhibitions or gardens to admire the beautiful blooms. Chrysanthemums are believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune. They are also associated with longevity and are often displayed as decorations during the festival.

Drinking Chrysanthemum Wine

It is a tradition to drink chrysanthemum wine during the Double Ninth Festival. Chrysanthemum petals or extracts are infused into wine, creating a fragrant and medicinal beverage. It is believed to have health benefits and is consumed as a way to ward off evil spirits and promote longevity.

Traditional Customs of the Double Ninth Festival

Enjoying Festive Foods

Traditional foods play an important role in the Double Ninth Festival. People indulge in special delicacies like Chongyang cake, which is made with rice flour and various ingredients such as nuts, dried fruits, and honey. The cake is shaped like chrysanthemum and is a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

Paying Respect to Ancestors

Filial piety is highly valued during the Double Ninth Festival. People visit the graves of their ancestors, clean the tombstones, and offer sacrifices such as food, fruits, and burning incense. This act of paying respects to ancestors is a way to honor family ties, express gratitude, and seek blessings for the living and deceased relatives.

Flying Kites

Kite flying is a popular activity during the Double Ninth Festival, especially among children. Colorful kites in various shapes and sizes fill the sky, creating a lively and festive atmosphere. Flying kites are believed to bring good luck and drive away evil spirits.

Wearing Zhuyu (Dogwood) Leaves

It is a traditional practice to wear zhuyu leaves during the Double Ninth Festival. The zhuyu plant, also known as dogwood, is believed to have the power to repel evil spirits. People attach zhuyu leaves to their clothes, hang them on doors, or make them into decorations to bring good luck and protect against misfortune.

Popular Mountain Destinations for the Double Ninth Festival

Mount Tai (Tai’an, Shandong Province)

Mount Tai

Known as the “Eastern Great Mountain,” Mount Tai is a sacred site and a popular destination for the Double Ninth Festival. Climbing Mount Tai during the festival is believed to bring good luck, blessings, and spiritual elevation. The mountain offers breathtaking natural landscapes, ancient temples, and cultural heritage sites.

Mount Huangshan (Anhui Province)

Mount Huangshan

Mount Huangshan, also known as the Yellow Mountain, is renowned for its stunning beauty and poetic landscapes. During the Double Ninth Festival, visitors flock to Mount Huangshan to enjoy the vibrant autumn colors and serene atmosphere. Hiking the mountain’s trails, witnessing the sea of clouds, and admiring the peculiar-shaped granite peaks are popular activities.

Mount Hua (Huayin, Shaanxi Province)

Mount Hua

Mount Hua, located near the city of Huayin, is famous for its steep cliffs, breathtaking vistas, and thrilling hiking trails. The Double Ninth Festival attracts adventurers seeking an exhilarating climb up the mountain’s challenging paths. Visitors can experience the awe-inspiring scenery, visit ancient Taoist temples, and enjoy panoramic views from the mountain’s summits.

Mount Emei (Sichuan Province)

Mount Emei

Mount Emei, one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It offers a serene and spiritual setting for celebrating the Double Ninth Festival. Visitors can hike through lush forests, visit ancient Buddhist temples, and witness the mist-covered peaks.

Mount Wutai (Shanxi Province)

Mount Wutai

Mount Wutai, also known as the Five Terrace Mountain, is a significant Buddhist pilgrimage site and a UNESCO World Heritage site. During the Double Ninth Festival, pilgrims and visitors ascend the mountain to pay respects to Buddhist temples and seek blessings. The mountain’s unique beauty, with its five prominent peaks and cultural landmarks, makes it a popular destination.

Traditional Foods and Refreshments

Sticky Rice Cake (Chongyang Cake)

Sticky Rice Cake, also known as Chongyang Cake, is a traditional delicacy eaten during the Double Ninth Festival. It is made from glutinous rice flour, sugar, and various ingredients such as nuts, dried fruits, and sesame.

Sticky Rice Cake is considered an auspicious food that represents unity, prosperity, and good fortune. Its round shape symbolizes family reunion and harmony, while the sticky texture represents cohesion and strong bonds.

Chrysanthemum Wine

Chrysanthemum Wine is a popular beverage consumed during the Double Ninth Festival. It is made by infusing chrysanthemum flowers into rice wine or grain alcohol.

Chrysanthemum Wine is believed to have medicinal properties and is associated with longevity and good health. It is also thought to ward off evil spirits and bring blessings for the coming year.

Traditional Foods and Refreshments

Double Ninth Gao (Steamed Cake)

Double Ninth Gao is a steamed cake prepared specifically for the Double Ninth Festival. It is made from glutinous rice flour, sugar, and various ingredients such as red dates, chestnuts, and nuts.

Double Ninth Gao is consumed as a symbol of protection against evil spirits and to bring good luck and fortune. Its soft and chewy texture is believed to represent resilience and strength in overcoming challenges.

Herbal Tea

Herbal Tea, often made with a combination of medicinal herbs and flowers, is a common beverage during the Double Ninth Festival. Ingredients may include chrysanthemum, wolfberry, Chinese date, and dried longan.

Herbal Tea is believed to have cleansing and nourishing properties for the body. It is associated with promoting good health, dispelling bad luck, and rejuvenation.

FAQs about Double Ninth Festival

What is the significance of chrysanthemums during the festival?

Chrysanthemums are symbolic during the festival, representing longevity, purity, and nobility. They are admired and displayed, and chrysanthemum-themed dishes may be enjoyed.

Is the Double Ninth Festival a public holiday in China?

No, it is not a public holiday, but it is widely recognized and celebrated across the country.

What are some other names for the Double Ninth Festival?

The festival is also known as the Chongyang Festival, as “Chong” means “double” in Chinese, and it falls on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month.

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