Held on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, Double Ninth Festival is also called Chongyang Festival. In Chinese, nine is regarded as the number of Yang. The ninth day of the ninth month is the day that has two Yang numbers, and “chong” in Chinese means double. This is how the name Chongyang was created. It is a day for people to eat Chongyang cake, drink chrysanthemum wine, climb mountains, and pay homage to chrysanthemums.
Just as other Chinese festivals have their own unique story, so does the Double Ninth Festival. It is said that in Eastern Han Dynasty, a devil inhabited in a river caused disease in the neighborhood. The parents of a young man called Hengjing, died because of the devil's magic. In order to get rid of the devil, Hengjing went through extraordinary lengths to find an immortal to teach him swordsmanship to expel the devil.
On the eighth day of the ninth lunar month, the immortal told Hengjing that the next day the devil would appear and he was to go back to get rid of the devil and the disease. Taking a bag of dogwood and some chrysanthemum wine with him, Hengjing returned to his hometown. In the morning of the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, Hengjing led all the villagers to the nearest mountain, each of whom was holding a piece of dogwood leaf and a cup of Chrysanthemum . At noon, when the devil came out from the river, the devil was puzzled by the fragrance emitted from the dogwood and the chrysanthemum wine and then stopped moving. At that moment Hengjing used the sword to battle the devil for a few rounds and won.
Since then the customs of climbing mountains, drinking chrysanthemum wine and holding onto dogwood on the ninth day of the ninth month have become popular.
Just as mentioned, drinking Chrysanthemum wine is an indispensable part of the festival. Chrysanthemum is regarded as a kind of flower having the function of an antitoxin and can drive the evil away. People often think that by drinking chrysanthemum wine, all kinds of diseases and disasters can be cured and prevented.
Chongyang Cake is a kind of steamed cake having two layers with nuts and jujube sandwiched between them. Since cake in Chinese is pronounced “gao” meaning high, people consider climbing a high mountain means the same as eating cake. People also expect to make personal progress in the following days after eating the cake, for “high” means that improvements are made while moving to a higher level.
Traditional Festival with a New Meaning
As nine is pronounced “jiu” meaning long in Chinese, people endow the word “jiu” with the meaning of longevity. In the year of 1989, Double Ninth Festival was designated as Senior's Day — a day to respect the elderly and to let them enjoy themselves. Many companies organize retired people to go for an outing. Members of a family also accompany their elders to have a relaxing day in a natural setting and wish them good health and happiness.
dogwood: n. 山茱萸
indispensable: adj. 不可或缺的
jujube: n. 枣子