Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Double Ninth Festival

On the ninth day of the ninth lunar month the Double Ninth Festival occurs.

The number nine in itself is a lucky number to the Chinese and has historically be associated with the Emperor of China whose robes would often have nine dragons on it. Nine is also a homophone for the word ‘longlasting’ but on the ninth day of the ninth month it is said that there is too much Yang, or masculinity, making the Double Ninth Festival a potentially dangerous day.

The origin of this holiday is probably from Han dynasty China where on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month the emperor and his attendants would wear the zhuyu plant (also known as the Japanese cornel),
eat rice cakes and drink chrysanthemum wine to dispel bad omens. It is said that the empress of Han Gaozu killed one of Gaozu’s concubines. The attendant of the concubine was dismissed from the palace of the emperor and married a civilian where the attendant continued the practice which lead to the Double Ninth Festival.

Appreciating chrysanthemum flowers along with drinking chrysanthemum wine are traditional of the Double Ninth Festival. Chrysanthemum wine is said to have many benefits both physically and spiritually.
 The ninth lunar month is known as the month of chrysanthemum by many.

A rice cake known as Double Ninth cake, chrysanthemum cake and flower cake are traditionally eaten this day and are called ‘gao’. Gao is a homophone for height, creating a link between this type of rice cake and customary mountain hiking. The mountain hiking is symbolic of climbing to higher position, of an increase in health, happiness and prosperity.

Back in 1989 the Chinese government made the Double Ninth Festival a day for seniors, calling it Seniors Day and from then on people will organize trips for their elders. People also give gives to their seniors during this day.

Families also get together and this festival is also an occasion to remember ancestors. Family outings do happen during the Double Ninth Festival with nature being greatly appreciated.

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