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Learn a Famous Chinese Poem for Double Ninth Festival

ASHLEY LABRIE

You may know about the Chinese New Year, Mid Autumn Festival, or Dragon Boat Festival, but have you ever heard about the lesser-known Double Ninth Festival (Chongyang Festival)

If not, we wanted to share a bit with you about this really interesting Chinese holiday, and give you a poem dedicated to the holiday to impress your Chinese friends with!

Introduction to the Holiday

The Double Ninth Festival - 重阳节 (chóng yáng jié) - is a Chinese festival that falls on the 9th day of the 9th month of the lunar year.

Chinese people believe that the number "nine" is "yang” - 阳 (yáng). This is the same “yang” that is in the word 阴阳 (yīn yáng), or “yin-yang”  - which is the representation of balance and a complementary relationship between two opposite sides in nature: the 阴 (yīn), representing “dark” or “female”, and the 阳 (yáng), representing “light” or “male.”

We actually teach a bit about the concept of 阴阳 (yīn yáng) in this lesson from our Intermediate Conversational Course, so feel free to check it out to learn more!

The name of the festival,  重阳节 (chóng yáng jié), literally translates to “double yang festival”, since there are two “yang” or “nines” in the date. The festival is also called 重九 (chóng jiǔ), literally “double nine”, because 九 (jiǔ), or “nine”, is thought to represent 阳 (yáng).

Since 九 (jiǔ), or “nine”, also has the same pronunciation as 久 (jiǔ), “long time”, eventually this date was also dedicated as Seniors’ Day, or 老年节 (lǎo nián jié), in China. It’s a day for respecting the elderly and for the elderly to enjoy themselves.

How the Holiday is Celebrated

Food/Drink

On this day, people will often eat 重阳糕 (chóng yáng gāo), Chongyang Cake, which is a baked cake made of rice flour and sugar and decorated with jujube, chestnuts and almonds. The dessert is thought to be lucky, since 糕 (gāo), or “cake” sounds exactly the same as 高 (gāo), “high” or “lofty”. Since this date is also Seniors’ Day, young people will often give their elders Chongyang Cake for them to eat.
 

People also usually drink chrysanthemum wine - 菊花酒 (jú huā jiǔ), which is said to protect you from evil, and wear 茱萸 (zhū yú) - Cornus officinalis. Both of these are said to hold cleansing qualities.


 
Other Activities

On the “Double Ninth Festival”, people will often appreciate autumn and chrysanthemums. It is also common to climb a high mountain, again relating back to 高 (gāo) - “high”, which is lucky. 

Another custom during this holiday is bathing in wormwood water, which is said to remove the evil spirits from one’s body. Some people also spend this holiday by visiting the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects.

Taboos

1. Avoid cooking


During the Double Ninth Festival, mothers should rest and avoid cooking - the same goes for the elderly, as it’s Seniors’ Day.

2. Don't send chrysanthemums


Although people enjoy looking at chrysanthemums on this day, be sure not to give anyone chrysanthemums! Because the chrysanthemum is an offering flower when worshipping your ancestors, it is not appropriate to give people chrysanthemums.

3. Don't say happy holidays


The Double Ninth Festival is a day dedicated to warding off evil spirits, so it’s best not to use 快乐 (kuài lè) - “happy”, when wishing someone well on this holiday. 

If you’d like to wish someone well, you could instead say: 

祝全家平安健康!(zhù quán jiā píng ān jiàn kāng) - “Wishing your whole family peace and good health!”

Learn a Chinese Poem About the Holiday

In honor of this holiday, we’ve provided the below poem about this holiday! Impress your Chinese friends by reciting it to them!


Title:

九月九日忆山东兄弟 
(jiǔ yuè jiǔ rì yì shān dōng xiōng dì)
Double Ninth, Remembering my Shandong Brothers

By:

[唐] 王维 
([táng] wáng wéi)
[Tang] Wang Wei

独在异乡为异客 ,
(dú zài yì xiāng wéi yì kè)
Being Alone alien in a foreign land,

每逢佳节倍思亲 。
(měi féng jiā jié bèi sī qīn)
Every holiday is accompanied by reminiscences of one's kith and kin.

遥知兄弟登高处 ,
(yáo zhī xiōng dì dēng gāo chù)
Knowing from afar, the heights one's elder and younger brothers have scaled,

遍插茱萸少一人。
(biàn chā zhū yú shǎo yì rén)
Side Wearing Cornus officinalis, there is one soul less, amiss.



Learn More


We hope you enjoyed this post on the Double Ninth Festival!

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll love our post on 5 Chinese holidays you may have never heard of

Let us know in the comments below: Have you ever heard of this holiday? Have you ever celebrated a holiday that’s similar to this one in your own country?

If you haven’t started learning Chinese with us yet, be sure to try out the free lessons within our courses!

The first level of our Beginner Conversational Course is totally FREE - that’s OVER 45 lesson videos building your Chinese up in the right order - including covering pinyin, tones, and some useful Mandarin words and phrases! Check out the first lesson here:



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Ashley Labrie helps with all things academic at Yoyo Chinese. She has been learning Chinese for many years and has lived in China, where she first fell in love with the language and culture.

Wed, 21 Oct 2020 07:00:00 GMT

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