What is the Chongyang Festival 重阳节?
Chongyang Festival 重阳节 is also known as Double Ninth Festival. It falls on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month, and is considered an auspicious day in the Chinese calendar.
In China, it is also a day to honour the elderly and is Festival of the Elderly. The story behind it is that the number 9 in Chinese, 九 sounds the same as 久 – longevity, so the Chinese government decreed it as a day to celebrate the senior citizens.
Another name for Chongyang Festival is Chrysanthemum Festival, because of the chrysanthemum liquor traditionally drank during the festival.
Chongyang Festival is also celebrated in Japan as 重陽の節句, (ki ku no sek ku) in Korea as Hangul 중양절.
In 2023, the Double Ninth Festival (Chongyang Festival) falls on 23rd of October 2023.
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Understanding the Chinese characters of the Chongyang Festival 重阳节
重 (chóng) – means double or repeat
阳 (yáng) – means the sun, or in this case the light side (vs 阴 dark side)
节 ( jié) – means festival
重阳节 (chóng yáng jié) – literally translate as “Double Yang” day. To understand the meaning behind the Chinese characters, you have to know what Yin-Yang is.
In the Chinese book of I Jing 《易经》, the number 9 is considered a “Yang” number (Yin/Yang – Yin Yang is a Chinese philosophical concept of opposite but interconnected forces). So the 9th day of the 9th lunar month is “Double Yang” day! Make sense?
Because it is very rare that a date will be “Yang” in nature, it was deemed an auspicious day. Any cause for a celebration hey?
How do people celebrate Chongyang Festival?
You climb a mountain! I’m not joking!!
Traditionally, people would climb mountains, drink chrysanthemum wine, eat Chongyang cakes, admire the chrysanthemum blooms. Chrysanthemums bloom in the ninth lunar month and the chinese name means “flower of longevity” Which is also why the day is sometimes known as Chrysanthemum Festival.
It was customary for women in the Tang Dynasty to wear chrysanthemums. It was also customary to wear dogwood, though the practice is rarely followed these days. Dogwood is a plant with a strong scent that is said to be excellent at expelling insects, helping with digestion and curing inner heat.
Chongyang cake is a beautiful layered steamed rice flour cake, adorned with jujube, chestnut and almonds. The many layers have an auspicious meaning “步步高升” means to keep rising and progressing. The super special ones have nine layers and look like a tower!
You can make your own Chongyang cake following this simple step by step video demonstration from 颜盼盼的小厨房 Yan Pan’s little kitchen.
Chongyang Festival Poem
The most famous poem associated with Chongyang Festival is《九月九日忆山东兄弟》by (唐·王维）
“On the Ninth Day of the Ninth Lunar Festival: Thinking of my brothers in Shandong” ~ written by poet Wang Wei (Tang Dynasty 701-761)
独在异乡为异客，(dú zài yì xiāng wèi yì kè）
每逢佳节倍思亲。(měi féng jiā jié bèi sī qīn)
遥知兄弟登高处，(yáo zhī xiōng dì dēng gāo chù)
遍插茱萸少一人。(biàn chā zhū yú shǎo yī rén)
English translation from Chinese Festivals by Liming Wei :
“All alone in a foreign land,
I am twice as homesick on this day.
When brothers carry dogwood up the mountain,
Each of them a branch and my branch missing.”
Books on Chongyang Festival
As the Chongyang festival is not as well-known as the other Chinese festivals, I have yet to find an English book about it. You may however, refer to Chinese Festivals by Wei Liming which is a good reference guide for all Chinese festivals.
Written by Liming Wei
ISBN : 978-0521186599
Available for sale at Amazon.
A detailed and comprehensive guide to all major Chinese festivals, peppered with snippets of historical significance in accordance to the timeline of Chinese history. Perfect for adults who want to know more about Chinese festivals and more.
我是中国节 I am Chinese Festival
Written and illustrated by 作者/绘者: 乔乔
ISBN (Simplified Chinese/English): 9787508539065
I borrowed this digitally from NLB Singapore.
《我是中国节》 I am Chinese Festival by 乔乔 is the only bilingual book I have found thus far on Chinese festivals. It is a whimsically beautiful and concise book that covers the 12 major Chinese festivals.
I honestly think this book should be distributed more widely!
Following are the Chinese books I have found on the Chongyang Festical. Most of the titles can be bought on Amazon or on major Chinese online retailers such as Taobao, JD.com and books.com.tw.
There aren’t many, so if you have more books on Chongyang Festival to recommend, please leave a comment and link!
王早早 / 著文
王凤 段虹 / 绘图
Similar to the previous book 重阳节/中国传统节日绘本故事系列, except this has a lot more details, and also illustrates the mystical tale of the Chongyang monster…
Videos on Chongyang Festival
Here are some videos explaining the Chongyang Festival which would be useful to educate yourself and your children on the festival.
Festive China: Double Ninth Festival by China Culture
An informational video in English about the Chongyang festival
An interactive Chinese video explaining the Chongyang Festival. It’s very engaging for young Chinese learners. Perfect for those learning Traditional Chinese.
重阳节丨Chinese Traditional Festival丨中国好绘本
A Chinese animation about the origins of the festival, complete with monsters and suffering Chinese villagers. Entertaining and comical. I’m honestly not sure how true this story is!
Chongyang Festival Craft Ideas
Chrysanthemum Flower Craft – easy
Chrysanthemum Flower Craft – expert
Chongyang Festival Drawing
Chongyang Festival Seniors paper cutting