The 9th day of the 9th lunar month is the traditional Chongyang Festival, or Double Ninth Festival. It usually falls in October in the Gregorian calendar. In an ancient and mysterious book Yi Jing, or The Book of Changes, number "6" was thought to be of Yin character, meaning feminine or negative, while number "9" was thought to be Yang, meaning masculine or positive. So the number nine in both month and day create the Double Ninth Festival, or Chongyang Festival. Chong in Chinese means "double." Also, as double ninth was pronounced the same as the word to signify "forever", both are "Jiu Jiu," the Chinese ancestors considered it an auspicious day worth celebration. That's why ancient Chinese began to celebrate this festival long time ago.
The custom of ascending a height to avoid epidemics was passed down from long time ago. Therefore, the Double Ninth Festival is also called "Height Ascending Festival". The height people will reach is usually a mountain or a tower. Ancient literary figures have left many poems depicting the activity. Even today, people still swarm to famous or little known mountains on this day.
On this day, people will eat Double Ninth Gao (or Cake). In Chinese, gao (cake) has the same pronunciation with gao (height). People do so just to hope progress in everything they are engaged in. There is no fixed ways for the Double Ninth Cake, but super cakes will have as many as nine layers, looking like a tower.
The Double Ninth Festival is also a time when chrysanthemum blooms. China boasts diversified species of chrysanthemum and people have loved them since ancient times. So enjoying the flourishing chrysanthemum also becomes a key activity on this festival. Also, people will drink chrysanthemum wine. Women used to stick such a flower into their hair or hang its branches on windows or doors to avoid evilness.
In 1989, the Chinese government decided the Double Ninth Festival as Seniors' Day. Since then, all government units, organizations and streets communities will organize an autumn trip each year for those who have retired from their posts. At the waterside or on the mountains, the seniors will find themselves merged into nature. Younger generations will bring elder ones to suburban areas or send gifts to them on this day.
the ninth day of the ninth lunar month
The "Chong Yang Festival" is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, and it is as such known as the Double Ninth Festival.
Climbing mountains: On the Double Ninth Festival, people customarily climb mountains, appreciate chrysanthemum flowers, drink chrysanthemum wine, and eat double-ninth cakes. The Double Ninth Festival is also the "Old Men Festival". Old people are especially meant to improve their health by taking part in the activities on the day of the festival.
Origins: The festival began as early as the Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC). According to the yin/yang dichotomy that forms a basis to the Chinese world view, yin represents the elements of darkness and yang represents life and brightness. The number nine is regarded as yang. The ninth day of the ninth month is a double yang day, hence the name "Chong Yang Festival". (Chong means "repeat" in Chinese.) The ninth month also heralds the approach of winter. It is a time when the living need warm clothing, and filial Chinese sons and daughters extended this to make the festival a time for providing winter clothes for their ancestors. The Double Ninth Festival, therefore, also became an occasion to visit the graves of dead family members. Clothes made of paper would then be burnt as offerings.
Family get-togethers: The Double Ninth Festival is also a time for family get-togethers. It is an occasion to remember one's ancestors, the sacrifices they made and the hardships they underwent. Often, family outings are organised during which people search to renew their appreciation of nature and to reaffirm their love and concern for family members and close friends.