top of page

Double Ninth Festival or the Chongyang Festival

The Double Ninth Festival, alternately named Chongyang Festival, Elder's Festival, or Chrysanthemum Festival, is a traditional holiday dedicated to venerating ancestors and demonstrating profound respect for elders.


Observed on the 9th of September in the Traditional Chinese Calendar, it is a time when families come together to partake in age-old customs, climb scenic heights, and offer tributes to ancestors.


The chrysanthemum, symbolic of longevity and endurance, often takes center stage during this celebration, adding a floral touch to the festivities.

Painting "Chrysanthemum" by artist Yun Shouping (1633 — 1690)

Chinese Landscape Painting "Guanchao Tu" by Yuan Jiang (About 1671—1746)

Chinese Landscape Painting "Guanchao Tu" by Yuan Jiang (About 1671 — 1746) — Palace Museum

Double Ninth Festival or Chongyang Meaning

In Yin-Yang theory, nine is the greatest Yang number; the double ninth is the day that extreme Yang would turn to the opposite, meaning the beginning and rising of Yin.


Therefore, the 9th of September was considered unlucky in history.  

In ancient Chinese Astrology, the Heart Lunar Fox (also named Fire of Heaven), one of the Twenty-eight Lunar Mansions, would descend on the 9th month of the Traditional Chinese Calendar.


It represents the end of Autumn and the beginning of winter.

Double Ninth Festival Origin and History

In ancient China, people would hold grand sacrifice ceremonies to worship heaven and ancestors on this day to celebrate the harvest and pray for blessings; when most farm works are finished, winter is coming. 

During the Three Kingdoms, Jin Dynasty, North and South Dynasties (220 — 589), celebrating the Chongyang Festival spread from royals to civilians.


It was set as a national festival until the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907) and has been popularized since then. 

Since "nine" sounds the same as eternality in Chinese, and it has been an important festival for worshipping ancestors.


In recent years, the Double Ninth was regulated as the Elders' Festival to show respect and care to aged people.

Customs, Traditions, Food, and Celebratory Activities of the Double Ninth Festival

  • Worship ancestors, hold activities for elders such as big feasts, and pray for their longevity. 

  • Mountaineer and hike. In ancient times, mysterious mountains had been believed to be auspicious places where deities lived; hence, people climbed on the Double Ninth to escape from bad luck.


Later, enjoying the view of autumn and having a picnic in nature became popular.

  • Drink Chrysanthemum Wine, and eat Chrysanthemum Cake. 

Chrysanthemum Cake
  • Hang or wear cornel leaves, which are believed could exorcise evilness and disease. 

  • Appreciate the Chrysanthemum with family and friends. 

The Chrysanthemum, the lucky Flower of September in the Traditional Chinese Calendar, represents longevity, strength, and nobility. 

  • Bask Autumn, also named Shai Qiu, which people put harvested food under the sun to eliminate moisture and make it easy to preserve.

Bask Autumn, or Shai Qiu on Double Ninth Festival
  • Eat Double Ninth cake, Chongyang Cake, Five-Color Cake, or Flower Cake. 

It is a sticky cake with many layers decorated with colorful beans, flowers, seasonal fruits, and nuts. 

Ingredients and cooking methods differ geographically. 

Double Ninth cake, Chongyang Cake, Five-Color Cake, or Flower Cake
bottom of page