What is the Double Ninth Festival and how is it celebrated?
It’s nearly time for a celebration!
What’s the occasion? Let us remind you…
The Chinese Double Ninth Festival, also known as the Chongyang Festival, is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month in the Chinese calendar. This year the day falls on the 25th of October.
The Double what, you ask?
In Chinese culture, nine is regarded as the number of yang. Chong means double and hence, the name Chongyang, or Double Ninth, was born. This traditional Chinese celebration can be traced back to the Warring States Period (475-221 BC); it was placed on the official list of festivals during the Tang Dynasty. Today, it is observed by people from China, the Republic of Korea and Japan.
So, for such a long-running, traditional festival, what is it all about? To understand the reason behind the celebration and the way it is celebrated, let’s dig in a little deeper into its origin…
The Legend of the Double Ninth
Once upon a time, (in today’s Henan Province), during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) a demon terrorised the land with a deadly plague. When a young man named Heng Jing lost his parents to the plague, he decided to take action to rid the world of the demon. He set off on a challenging mission, seeking the help of a powerful immortal. Seeing the great courage of Heng Jing, the immortal mentored Heng Jing and gifted him with a magical sword to kill the demon. He also told Heng Jing the demon would appear on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month.
Heng Jing returned home with a packet of dogwood, a bottle of chrysanthemum wine and his sword.
On the ninth day of the ninth month, Heng Jing, along with all the people of the village, climbed on top of a mountain, each carrying a piece of dogwood and a cup of chrysanthemum wine. When the demon appeared, he was momentarily overwhelmed by the smell of dogwood and wine, and that was when Heng Jing seized his opportunity. Heng Jing slew the demon and so rid the people of the pestilence. A hero, and a tradition, was born.
How is the Double Ninth Festival celebrated today?
Climbing mountains: Did you know the Chongyang Festival is also known as the Height Ascending Festival? Stemming from the festival’s legendary story, the tradition of climbing mountains is synonymous with the festival itself. Friends and family climb mountains in the hope of avoiding illness and disaster, the climb itself symbolising longer life and shared happiness.
Get-togethers: The Double Ninth is also a time to remember one’s ancestors and to respect and care for one’s older relatives. In 1989, the Double Ninth Festival was set as Senior Citizens’ Day.
If one thing is for sure, the Double Ninth sure goes by many a name.
Chrysanthemums: Drinking chrysanthemum wine and admiring the blossomed flowers is also at the heart of the celebration. You may even hear the festival being referred to as the Chrysanthemum Festival. In the olden days, it was customary to also wear dogwood (Zhuyu) but this tradition is no longer commonly observed.
Chongyang cakes: Eating and giving these traditional steamed cakes to friends and family is part and parcel of the Double Ninth. Fun fact, in Chinese ‘cake’ (gao) has the same pronunciation as ‘height’ (gao). So, by eating these cakes you’re climbing the heights, too. That’s the kind of cake we can get on board with!
Chyongyang cake recipe
See below a delicious recipe for a Chongyang cake using our essential Camping ingredients.
200g Glutinous rice flour
300g Rice flour
200g Red bean paste
Dried fruit and dates to decorate
1. Mix the glutinous rice flour with the rice flour.
2. Add sugar.
3. Add water and mix together. Stand for 4 hours.
4. Sift the mixture twice.
5. Pour some of the mixture into the bamboo steamer (use moulds if you want to make cakes into the shape of a flower etc.) and spread evenly. Add bean paste and cover with the rest of the flour mixture.
6. Decorate with dried fruits.
7. Steam for 30 minutes.
Enjoy and share with friends and family!