Know Your Holiday: Double Ninth Festival

 

As an alien visitor in a strange land all by myself,

I think all the more of my loved ones on every festive occasion.

I know in the far away that when my brothers climb the mountain,

All wear cornel but one person is absent.

                                    — Tang Dynasty Wang Wei

Missing Brothers in Shandong on the Double-Ninth Day

 

The Double-Ninth Festival falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month and has a history of more than 1,700 years.

 

The festival is based on the theory of Yin and Yang, the two opposing principles in nature. Even numbers belong to Yin and odd numbers to Yang. The ninth day of the ninth lunar month is a day when the two Yang numbers meet, so it is called Chong Yang, as chong means double in Chinese.

 

The traditional activities for Double-Ninth Festival are climbing mountains, admiring chrysanthemums, wearing cornel and eating Double-Ninth cake.

 

 

Ancient people thought climbing a mountain on this day could help them avoid misfortune and prevent disasters, and this gradually evolved into a form of relaxation and exercise.

 

 

Made of flour, the Double-Ninth cake can be sweet if jujube, ginkgo, pine nuts and apricot kernel are added, or salty if meat is added. Some exquisite cakes are made into nine layers with a pattern of two sheep above, which is homophonic of “Double Ninth”.

 

 

In 1989, the Chinese government decided to make Double Ninth Festival into Seniors’ Day. Younger generations will bring elder ones to suburban areas or send gifts to them on this day, wishing them good health and a long life.

 

 

Editor: Bonnie Lu