Happy Double Ninth (Chongyang) Festival!

Today’s another festival! This one takes place on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month – it’s usually in October, and this year it’s on 9th October. On account of its symbolism, it’s also been declared as Senior Citizens’ Day 老人节 (since 1966 in Taiwan, and since 1989 in PR China, and written into PRC law in 2013).

To celebrate in the traditional way, you’d climb up somewhere high to see the view (deng gao 登高), drink chrysanthemum wine (juhua jiu 菊花酒), eat special cakes (Chongyang gao 重阳糕), wear a sprig of dogwood (zhuyu 茱萸), and think of poems about chrysanthemums (juhua 菊花).

One poem stands out as a particular favourite for the Double Ninth Festival. It’s by Wang Wei 王维, who lived during the eighth century:

On the Ninth of the Ninth, thinking of my Shandong brothers  《九月九日忆山东兄弟》

独在异乡为异客      Du zai yi xiang wei yi ke

每逢佳节倍思亲      Mei feng jia jie bei si qin

遥知兄弟登高处       Yao zhi xiong di deng gao chu

遍插茱萸少一人       Bian cha zhu yu shao yi ren

Alone, in a foreign place as a foreign guest

At each festival I think more and more of home

Far away, I know my brothers are climbing up high

They’re all wearing dogwood, but they’re one person short.

We found a number of children’s books in Chinese about this festival, many of which refer to Wang Wei’s poem.

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