The Double Ninth Festival (Chongyang Jie)
The traditional Double Ninth Festival, as one would suspect, comes on the 9th day of the 9th lunar mouth. In ancient times, the Chinese people regarded nine as a yang (positive or masculine) number. Thus the yang day in the yang mouth was called chongyang (double yang, or double ninth).The Double ninth was a festival day at least two thousand years ago in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).
In that dynast there was a man named Huan Jing who was a disciple of a Daoist priest called Fei Zhangfang. One day Fei warned his disciple: "Disaster will visit your home on the 9th day of the 9th mouth. Everyone in your family must at once make a red pouch, put the seed of the dogwood in it, hang it on their arm and go climb a mountain and drink some chrysanthemum wine there. This may enable you to avoid the disaster."
The pouch was made of gauze and, when filled with dogwood seed, was called a "fragrance pouch". So on that day, Huan Jing and his family did as the Daoist had told him. When they came back from the mountain, they found all their farm animals dead. From that time on, wearing dogwoods seeds, climbing a mountain and drinking chrysanthemum wine have become customs that guard against evils and avert disasters.
This is, after all, a story made up by the ancient Chinese. But it is true that in autumn, wild fruit, seeds and medicinal herbs are ripe for gathering. These are usually in the mountains, and climbing is good for one's health-perhaps a more convincing reason people like climbing mountains at this time of the year.
As the centuries went by, more customs came to be used for the Double Ninth. In the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) every family put chrysanthemum blossoms on its doors. They also made flour cakes, ornamenting them with pomegranate seeds, chestnuts gingko kernels, pine nuts and tiny Dynasty the residents of Beijing made fancy cakes, decorating them with dates and chestnuts. Married daughters were invited back home to join their parents in eating this delicacy.
These customs still exist. The autumn season is neither hot nor cold, and the sky is often cloudless -a time when the chrysanthemum flowers are the in full bloom. Such fine days are exactly right for family outings.
Chinese poets in history wrote many odes to the chrysanthemum. One of the most loved and often-quote is this one by Cen Shen:
I insist on ascending a height;
No one is there to bring me wine.
Alas, how I miss my chrysanthemum garden!
They should bloom here on the battlefield.
The title of this poem is:
"The Nine-day March Took My Thoughts Back to My Garden in Chang'an".