Double Ninth Festival in China
The Double Ninth Festival, also known as Chongyang Festival, is a traditional Chinese event celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. In the local language, it is called 重阳节 (Chóngyáng Jié). The festival's date changes every year based on the lunar calendar, typically falling in October or early November.
The origins of the Double Ninth Festival can be traced back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD), but it became more widely celebrated during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). The festival is associated with various legends and historical events, one of which involves a young man named Huan Jing who saved his village from a plague by following the advice of an immortal. Huan Jing and the villagers climbed a mountain, drank chrysanthemum wine, and wore dogwood branches to ward off evil spirits. This story led to the customs of climbing mountains and enjoying chrysanthemum wine during the festival.
National customs for the Double Ninth Festival in China
There are several national customs associated with the Double Ninth Festival across China. Climbing mountains or high places is a popular activity, as it is believed to help avoid bad luck and bring good fortune. People often carry dogwood branches or wear them in their hair, as the plant is thought to have protective properties against evil spirits.
Chrysanthemum appreciation is another important custom during this time. People visit chrysanthemum exhibitions or gardens to enjoy the beautiful flowers that are in full bloom during the festival. Drinking chrysanthemum wine, a traditional beverage made from chrysanthemum flowers and rice wine, is also believed to promote good health and longevity.
Paying respects to the elderly is another significant aspect of the Double Ninth Festival. Families gather to celebrate and express their gratitude towards their elders, often offering them gifts and special foods.
Local customs for the Double Ninth Festival in China
In addition to the national customs, various regions in China have their own unique traditions for the Double Ninth Festival. For instance, in Guangdong Province, people prepare a special cake called "Chongyang Cake," made of rice flour, sugar, and chestnuts. The cake is steamed and then shared among family members and friends.
In Zhejiang Province, people fly kites during the festival to symbolize good luck and happiness. The kites are often shaped like butterflies, birds, or other auspicious animals.
In Sichuan Province, it is customary to eat a dish called "Nine-Layer Cake," which is made of glutinous rice and other grains. Each layer of the cake represents one of the nine days of the ninth lunar month, symbolizing the accumulation of blessings and happiness.
The Double Ninth Festival is a rich and diverse celebration of Chinese culture, with a focus on family, gratitude, and the appreciation of nature. Through its various customs and local traditions, the festival offers a unique insight into the values and beliefs of the Chinese people. As the festival continues to evolve and adapt to modern times, it remains a cherished event that brings families together and highlights the importance of honoring one's ancestors and elders.