The Double Ninth Festival | Chongyang Festival 2024
What is the Chinese Double Ninth Festival?
The Double Ninth Festival, also referred to as the Chongyang Festival (重阳节｜重陽節 zhòng yáng jiē ), is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2023, this corresponds to October 23.
In accordance with the mysterious book Yi Jing, six is regarded as a feminine number in the Yin (阴｜陰) character, and nine is treated as a masculine number in the Yang (阳｜陽) character. "Chong" (重) in Chinese characters means double. It is believed that the double ninth day in the lunar calendar is a fortunate day to be celebrated. Endowed with new significance, this festival has been designated as the Senior’s Festival since 1989, to express respect for elders.
Why is the Double Ninth Festival celebrated?
The festival has its roots in ancient Chinese Taoism, which views the number nine as a highly auspicious number. The ninth day of the ninth month is also the highest point in the autumn season, which is associated with longevity and good health.
Over time, the Double Ninth Festival has become a day to celebrate the elderly and to show respect for their wisdom and experience. It is also a day to appreciate nature and to enjoy the beauty of the autumn season.
In 1989, the Chinese government designated the Double Ninth Festival as the Senior Citizens' Day. This day is used to raise awareness of the importance of respecting and caring for the elderly.
Today, the Double Ninth Festival is a popular holiday in China and other parts of Asia. It is a time for families and friends to come together and celebrate the elderly, to appreciate nature, and to enjoy the beauty of the autumn season.
Double Ninth Festival Date
Origin of the Double Ninth Festival
The Double Ninth Festival is thought to have originated from a worship ceremony of the bright star “Antares”, which was also known as “Dahuo” in ancient times. People found an astronomical rule in the spring and autumn period, as Antares usually appeared in the sky at the beginning of spring, and after that, it would be brighter and hung in the southern direction on the day of Summer Solstice. As a sign of seasonal change, Antares moved forward towards the west after July until it was below the horizon in September. With Antares being considered as a god, ancient people were frightened by the star’s disappearance from the sky which made them lose its time reference for farming. Therefore, people held a ceremony to keep safe. In a word, the festival is a result of China’s agricultural civilization.
The festival has long history of two thousand years. It can be traced back to the Spring and Autumn Period and was not taken seriously until the Warring States Period, when it was only celebrated among royal families. Legend has it that a concubine of an emperor Gaozu of the Han Dynasty (202-220 B.C.) was framed by the Queen, and her maid was expelled from the palace. After marrying a civilian, the maid told others that everyone in the palace wore the Zhuyu plant (a kind of herb) and drank chrysanthemum wine to pray for longevity on the Double Ninth Day. Therefore, the activities gradually became a part of folklore.
Legend of the Double Ninth Festival
It is said that during the Eastern Han Dynasty, a devil of plague inhabited Ru River. If it once appeared, people in the village would get disease every day and even die. People living around Ru River suffered a lot of tortures by the devil.
A young man named Hengjing, whose parents had died from plague, also got ill. After recovery, he decided to visit an immortal to learn magic and get rid of the devil. Traveling over a lot of mountains, he heard of an immortal living on a precipitous mountain and finally arrived. Touched by his unshakable belief, the immortal taught Hengjing swordsmanship to expel the devil. After hard practice day and night with considerable effort, he eventually had extraordinary skills in swordsmanship. One day, the immortal told him, the devil would come to his village on the double ninth day. It was time to help the villagers to get rid of the devil. Hengjing was given a package of the Zhuyu plant, a pot of chrysanthemum wine and an understanding of the mystery of exorcizing the spirit. When he went back, he asked the villagers to climb a high mountain near the village, wear some Zhuyu plant and drink chrysanthemum wine. The devil came out from Ru River, but it felt faint smelling the scent of Zhuyu and chrysanthemum. At that time, Hengjing killed it with his sword. Since then, these activities to avoid the devil have been wildly circulated.
How to celebrate the festival
With the development of the Chinese calendar, people had a new understanding about time, and the worship ceremony for Antares has declined. But people are also aware of changes in the climate, and so the old customs of the day have been passed down. This festival is a transition from summer to autumn, so all of the customs are about people’s feelings in this season.
There are lots of activities in the festival, including sightseeing, climbing mountains, wearing Zhuyu, eating Chongyang cake, admiring chrysanthemums and drinking chrysanthemum wine. Although it is hard to know the original sacrificial ceremony as time has passed by, traces of it can be found in today’s customs.
People believed that climbing to high places on the Double Ninth Festival can prevent disease as in its legend, so that it is also known as the Height Ascending Festival. Today, it is a golden time to enjoy natural beauty with friends and relatives.
Eat Chongyang Cakes
In Chinese characters, the pronunciation of cake is “gao”, which is similar to the word for ‘high’. That is a little word-play trick. Chongyang cake is a nine-layer cake shaped like a tower with a great wish that everything will be promoted.
Enjoy Chrysanthemum and Drink Chrysanthemum Wine
People not only love the beauty of the flower, but also appreciate its strong vitality in late autumn. It is said that the idea of enjoying chrysanthemums and drinking its wine was created by a brilliant poet named Tao Yuanming in the Jin Dynasty (265-420 A.D.). He is renowned for his poetry, loving wine and chrysanthemum. Following in his footsteps, people take it as an important activity on the festival.
Wear Zhuyu Plant
Wearing the Zhuyu plant is very prevalent in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). It was considered that the Zhuyu plant could protect them from diseases and disasters. People usually wear it around their arm, or make a sachet which is tied to their waistband.
Visit Elderly Relatives
Since China designated the Double Ninth Festival as the Senior’s Day, people usually spend time accompanying elderly relatives on the day for respect. It is a great opportunity to climb to high places or have an excursion for whole families.
Popular Chinese Chongyang Festival Greetings
chòng yáng jiē yuàn suǒ yǒu zhǎng bèi xǐ lè ān kāng
Wish all the elders happiness and good health on Double Ninth Festival.
yuàn nǐ dù guò yī gè huān lè xiáng hé 、xìng fú měi mǎn de chòng yáng jiā jiē
Wishing you a delightful Double Ninth Festival filled with peace, prosperity and joy.
chòng yáng jiā jiē xiàng nín sòng shàng měi hǎo de zhù fú, zhù nín jiàn kāng kuài lè ,xìng fú ān kāng
Sending you warm greetings on Chongyang Festival for health, joy and prosperity.
chòng yáng jiē yuàn nín shēn tǐ jiàn kāng ,chǎng mìng bǎi suì
May you have good health and longevity on this Double Ninth Festival.
yī bēi lǎo jiǔ jù jiù qíng ，jú huā piāo xiāng sòng zhù fú ，zhù nín xìng fú ān kāng
A cup of aged wine to gather old feelings, Chrysanthemum's fragrance sends blessings, Wishing you happiness and health!
jiā yǒu yī lǎo ，rú yǒu yī bǎo ，jiā yǒu èr lǎo ，shì shì dōu hǎo . chòng yáng jiē dào le ，zhù yuàn nǐ quán jiā xìng fú 、tián mì 、jiàn kāng
Having an elder in the family is like having a treasure, having two elders, everything will go smoothly. Chongyang Festival is here, wishing your whole family joy, sweetness and health.
dēng gāo yuǎn tiào ，shén qīng qì shuǎng ，jiǔ jiǔ chòng yáng ，zhù yuàn nín shì shì rú yì
Climbing high and gazing afar, refreshing and invigorating, Double Ninth Festival is here, wishing you satisfaction in everything.
yòu dào yī nián chòng yáng jiē ，diǎn diǎn zhù fú suí fēng chuán ，chòng yáng jiē ，yuàn nǐ píng ān xìng fú ，chòng yáng kuài lè
It's Chongyang Festival again this year, blessings are sent with the wind, On Chongyang Festival, I wish you peace and happiness, have a joyful Chongyang Festival!
chòng yáng jiā jiē ，wàn shòu huā xiāng ，zhù jun1 xìng fú ，zhōng shēn píng ān ，yǒng yuǎn jiàn kāng
Chongyang festival, fragrance of longevity flowers. Wishing you happiness, lifelong peace, And everlasting health!