The ninth day of the ninth month is a special day in the Chinese lunisolar calendar. According to the Classic of Changes (易经 Yi Jing), ‘nine’ is a Yang number, and the ‘Double Ninth Day’ is considered auspicious and should be celebrated as a ‘Double Yang Festival’ (重阳节).
The Chinese tradition on this special day is to climb up a mountain, drink chrysanthemum-flavoured wine and wear zhuyu (茱萸) sprigs (some say Cornus Officinalis) on the head or around arms. It is also customary to visit family’s ancestral graves, cleaning the area, laying out food offerings and burning incense sticks. This practice is believed to be able to establish spiritual connection with ancestors. The special day has gradually become a festival for paying respect to the elderly who will be offered Chongyang rice cake 重阳糕 and accompanied to appreciate chrysanthemum flowers, which is right in season.
A famous poet named Wang Wei (王维 699/701? –761) from Tang dynasty (618–907) wrote in his poem ‘Reminiscence of My Brothers Living at the East of the Mountain on Ninth of September 九月九日忆山东兄弟’:
…I know that in the far distance, my brothers are high up on a hill, wearing zhuyu all over and yet I am absent.