The Double Ninth Festival, also referred to as the Chong Yang Festival, is a traditional folk holiday focused on good health and long life. It’s a great opportunity to visit elderly relatives and get outside to enjoy the crisp fall weather with friends and family.
Mark Your Calendars
Double Ninth Festival 2017 is October 28, 2017. It takes place every year between October 1 and October 30 on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month.
Here’s a simple guide to the holiday that’s now officially become Senior’s Day in China.
The Double Ninth Festival originates from a Han Dynasty tale about Hengjing, a young man who saves his village from a river monster feared to spread disease. After sending the villagers to a nearby mountain and steeled only with chrysanthemum and dogwood antidotes, Hengjing saves his village by defeating the monster in a brutal sword fight.
The Double Ninth Festival falls on a date with two yang numbers, positive and masculine where yin numbers are negative and feminine. Hence, Chong Yang translates literally to “double yang,” a reference to the energy imbalance needing to be brought back into harmony.
Double Ninth Festival Traditions
Whether to commemorate Hengjing’s heroism or to neutralize the double yang’s imbalance, Double Ninth Festival traditions focus on curatives, vibrancy and good health. While the holiday began as a day to protect against disease and danger, it’s become an opportunity to celebrate before the onset of winter.
Go Mountain Climbing
Mountain climbing has long been believed to prevent disease and this activity references the villagers from the holiday’s creation story. Today, it’s a great opportunity to grab friends and relatives to enjoy the fall foliage.
Drink Chrysanthemum Tea
People drink chrysanthemum tea for its antioxidant properties, especially so on the Double Ninth Festival. If you want something a bit stronger in your cup, chrysanthemum wine will also accomplish the same trick.
Eat Chong Yang Cake
Admittedly, this one feels like a cheat. It’s a play on the word for cake gao, meaning high, which makes people feel like eating cake is a substitute for climbing a mountain. Hmm.
Visit Elderly Relatives
China designated the Double Ninth Festival as Senior’s Day in 1989, a reference to the word for nine jiu, which also means long. You can visit your ancestors’ graves to clean and make offerings, or simply spend time with your elderly relatives.
When is the Double Ninth Festival?
The Double Ninth Festival takes place every year between October 1 and October 30 on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month. There is no time off granted for the Double Ninth Festival.
Double Ninth Festival dates through 2026 are below.
HT: Photo by The Spruce.