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The Double Ninth Festival (Chinese: 重九pinyin: Chóngjiǔ , also traditional Chinese: 重陽節pinyin: Chóngyángjié or Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong, Vietnamese language: Tết Trùng Cửu), observed on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar, is a traditional Chinese holiday, mentioned in writing since before the East Han period (thus, before AD 25).

According to the I Ching, nine is the yang number; the ninth day of the ninth lunar month (or double nine) has too much yang (a traditional Chinese spiritual concept) and is thus a potentially dangerous date. Hence, the day is also called "Double Yang Festival" (重陽節). To protect against the danger, it is customary to climb a high mountain, drink chrysanthemum wine, and wear the zhuyu (茱萸) plant, Cornus officinalis. (Both chrysanthemum and zhuyu are considered to have cleansing qualities and are used on other occasions to air out houses and cure illnesses.) Also on this holiday, some Chinese also visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects.

Contents

Dates

Year Corresponding Date in Gregorian Calendar
2008 October 7
2009 October 26
2010 October 16
2011 October 5
2012 October 23
2013 tbd

Origin

It is said that in the ancient China, probably in the Han dynasty, on September 9th, the emperor and his attendants would wear the zhuyu plant, eat rice cakes and drink chrysanthemum wine to dispel bad omens and pray for longevity. But afterwards, the empress of HanGaoZu (the emperor) killed his lover Mrs Qi cruelly. Consequently, Qi's attendant, a girl, was dismissed from the palace and married a civilian, so the custom in the palace was in circulation.

In 1966, the Republic of China (Taiwan) rededicated the holiday as "Senior Citizens' Day",[1] underscoring one custom as it is observed in China, where the festival is also an opportunity to care for and appreciate the elderly.[2]

Double Ninth may have originated as a day to drive away danger, but like the Chinese New Year, over time it became a day of celebration. In contemporary times it is an occasion for hiking and chrysanthemum appreciation. Stores sell rice cakes (糕 "gāo", a homophone for height 高) inserted with mini colorful flags to represent zhuyu. Most people drink chrysanthemum tea, while a few strict traditionalists drink homemade chrysanthemum wine. Children in school learn poems about chrysanthemums, and many localities host a chrysanthemum exhibit. Mountain climbing races are also popular; winners get to wear a wreath made of zhuyu.

Poem

There is an often-quoted poem about the holiday:

"Double Ninth, Missing My Shandong Brothers" — Wang Wei (Tang Dynasty)

Original:

"九月九日憶山東兄弟" jiǔ yuè jiǔ rì yì shān dōng xiōng dì

by 王維 wáng wéi

獨在異鄉為異客, dú zài yì xiāng wéi yì kè

每逢佳節倍思親. měi féng jiā jié bèi sī qīn

遙知兄弟登高處, yáo zhī xiōng dì dēng gāo chù

遍插茱萸少一人. biàn chā zhū yú shǎo yī rén

English:

As a lonely stranger in the strange land,
Every holiday the homesickness amplifies.
Knowing that my brothers have reached the peak,
All but one is present at the planting of zhuyu.

See also

References

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