Held on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month, Chongyang Festival is also called the Double Ninth Festival. In Chinese, nine is regarded as the number of Yang (meaning masculine as opposed to Yin which is feminine). The ninth day of the ninth month is the day that has two Yang numbers, and “chong” in Chinese means double which is how the name Chongyang came to be. Itís a day of eating Chongyang cake, drinking chrysanthemum wine, climbing mountains, and paying homage to chrysanthemums.
During the festival, eating Chongyang cake and drinking chrysanthemum wine is the norm. Climbing mountains and admiring beautiful chrysanthemums are favorite festival pastimes. The Chongyang cake is a steamed cake usually with two layers of nuts and jujube sandwiched in between. Since cake in Chinese is pronounced ‘Gao’ meaning high, people consider climbing a high mountain to be the same as eating cake. So, personal improvement is expected to be made in the days after eating the cake by moving to a higher level of development.
Chrysanthemums which are in full bloom during the festival are regarded as flowers with antitoxin function and the capability of warding off evil. Locals believe that by drinking chrysanthemum wine, all kinds of diseases and disasters can be cured and prevented. They also believe that by ascending to a high mountain, diseases can be prevented. Many renowned poems written by poets in the Tang Dynasty (618 ñ 907 AD) describe the scenery and thrill of mountain climbing. Now, groups of families and good friends gather to climb mountains to enjoy the beautiful scenery and each other’s company during the festival.
In years gone by, the custom of wearing dogwood – a kind of plant thought to dispel disaster ñ was popular. Women and children liked to wear a fragrant pouch with dogwood sewed in. However, this custom has phased out.