Double Ninth Festival
Date: the ninth day of the ninth lunar month
The ninth day of the ninth lunar month is the "Double Ninth Festival" in China. In the ancient Chinese book" Yijing (or I-Ching, The Book of Changs)," "six" was seen as the yin number, while "nine" the yang Number. The ninth day of the ninth lunar month includes two yang numbers, so the day is called "Double Yang" or "Double Nine." The earliest record of the name of "Double Ninth Festival" was in the period of Three Kingdoms (220-280).
The origin of Double Ninth Festival can date back to at least the beginning of Han Dynasty. At that time, Queen Lv was so jealous of Concubine Qi, who is one of the favorite of Liu Bang (the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, 256 or 247-195 BC), that she ill-treated the latter and drove her maid out of the imperial palace to marry a common people. This maid, who is known as Miss Jia, told people that in the imperial palace, every ninth day of the ninth lunar month, they wear dogwoods and drink chrysanthemum wine, otherwise there would be disasters. Later many common people followed the custom and it gradually prevailed all over the country.
The custom of wearing dogwoods was already very popular in the Tang Dynasty. The dogwood is heavy-scented plant whose fruit is edible and stock and leaves can be medicinal materials. They can expel insects, get rid of the humidity, help digestion dogwoods on Double Ninth Festival could prevent diseases and avoid disasters. They also wear the dogwoods on arms or heads or put them in sachets. Most of people that follow the custom are women and children, and in some places men also wear them.
Besides dogwoods, chrysanthemums are also worn by people on Double Ninth Festival. Chrysanthemums blossom in the ninth lunar month and they have a beautiful name of "flower of longevity." The custom of wearing chrysanthemums appeared in the Tang Dynasty already and was always very popular throughout the time afterwards. When it came to the Qing Dynasty, people in Beijing began to stick the chrysanthemums on doors and windows to "get rid of the bad luck and bring in the good ones," which is an alteration of the custom of wearing Chrysanthemums on head.
It is always bright and clear around Double Ninth Festival and the chrysanthemums are blossoming then, so drinking wine while enjoying chrysanthemums is also one if the traditional customes in this festival. Enjoying chrysanthemums and drinking chrysanthemum wine originated from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) in which the great poet Tao Yuanming (365-427) lived. Tao was famous for his reclusive life in the countryside, his excellence in poetry, and his favor of wine and also chrysanthemums. Other people imitated him and this custom of enjoying chrysanthemums thus came into being. The scholar officials then added feasting to go with enjoying chrysanthemums in order to be more like Tao Yuanming. This custom spread widely in the capital Kaifeng in the Song Dynasty. After the Qing Dynasty, with the time not limited to the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, this custom became even more popular. But the grandest celebrations, of course, were still around the Double Ninth Festival Crisp air, clear sky, blossoming chrysanthemums all over the fields-it is really a joyful life!
There is also a custom of eating "Double Ninth Cakes" on the festival later. The Double Ninth cake is a kind of food made of flour. It can be added jujubes, gingkoes apricots, and pine nuts to become sweet, or be added meat to become salt. Some special Double Ninth cakes should have nine layers and look like a tower. There should be two little sheep on the top,Which is to go with the "double yang" (sheep in Chinese is "yang").
People also like to climb mountains on this festival, so Double Ninth Festival is also called "Mountain_climbing Festival." It is really refreshing to climb mountains and enjoy the beauty of nature at this bright and clear time in autumn. Climbing mountains on Double Ninth Festival was already prevailing in the Tang Dynasty, and a lot of poems were devoted to this custom, such as "On the Ninth Day of the Ninth Lunar Festival: Thinking of My Brothers in Shandong" written by the great poet Wang Wei (701-761) in the Tang Dynasty:
All alone in a foreign land,
I am twice as homesick on this day.
When brothers carry dogwood up the mountain,
Each of them a branch and my branch missing.
A part from expelling bad luck and disasters, climbing mountains also indicates "climbing to a higher position," and it is also an important reason why ancient people pay much attention about this custom. Another reason that climbing mountain are valued by people, especially by the elderly is that is has a meaning of "climb to a longevous life." Also for this reason people believe that climbing mountains can make people live a more longevous life.
There is no custom of planting dogwood on Double Ninth Festival nowadays,but many people still climb up the mountains and enjoy the chrysanthemums together with the beautiful scenery of autumn. In the recent years something new was added into the old festival and it became an annual "Respeck-the-Senior Festival." Every time it comes to this day, people will hold all kinds of activities to show their wish for the senior people that they can always keep healthy and happy.