The month of November is now halfway over and we are heading towards Thanksgiving and the Holiday season, one of the most magical and fun times of the year. In the past I have written about the many important holy days that occur towards the end of November and into December leading up to Christmas and the New Year. This is a truly wonderful period with deep spiritual significance. I would like to discuss an Asian holiday that shares many of the principles of gratitude and family unity with the American observance of Thanksgiving. This is Chung Yeung or Double Ninth Festival which is celebrated throughout China, Japan, Vietnam and Asian communities throughout the world. Chung Yeung is a holiday that encourages people to take a day out of their busy schedules to honor their ancestors and spend quality time with family, especially the elderly, and otherwise stop for a moment and enjoy themselves and give thanks for the many blessings in life.
Chung Yeung or the Double Ninth Festival takes its name from the fact that it falls on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month which roughly corresponds to late October on the western calendar. The number nine is considered highly auspicious in Chinese numerology and many weddings and other important events are planned on the 9th of the month. Chung Yeung is considered highly auspicious since it falls both on the 9th day and during the 9th month. This festival dates back to at least the 1st century AD and has its roots in a story involving a man named Huang Jing who believed that a monster was causing hardship to the land. He told his fellow villagers to hide on a mountain while he defeated the monster. Once the creature was subdued, the villagers returned and celebrated Huang Jing’s victory over the beast which happened to fall on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month, a feat and date which are commemorated to this day in the festival of Chung Yeung.
Presently, Chung Yeung is celebrated throughout China, Japan and Vietnam and in Asian communities around the world. In Chinese folklore, it is believed that the world is filled with both Yang which is male energy and Yin which is feminine energy and Chung Yeung is considered a date that is highly Yang, so activities such as eating sweet cakes and drinking chrysanthemum tea are common since they bring Yin energy to achieve balance. In fact, the chrysanthemum is such an iconic image of Chung Yeung that the holiday is known commonly in Japan as the Chrysanthemum Festival where it is often celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar on September 9th and not on the traditional Chinese date. Mountain climbing is also a popular activity on Chung Yeung in commemoration of Huang Jing’s defeat of the monster during which the villagers took refuge on a mountain. As is common with many Chinese observances, ancestor veneration is widely practiced especially in Hong Kong and Southern China and large quantities of spirit money are burned at ancestral graves and food offerings are made. It is also important to spend quality time with family and loved ones on this date. In Taiwan, Chung Yeung has been celebrated as Senior Citizens’ Day since the 1960’s. The longing for closeness with one’s family at Chung Yeung is expressed beautifully in the following poem:
As a lonely stranger in a foreign land,
At every holiday my homesickness increases.
Far away, I know my brothers have reached the peak;
They are wearing the zhuyu, but one is not present.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and in the future we can all make a point of spending time with living relatives and friends and honoring our ancestors on Chung Yeung and always. I thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and as always I wish you peace, happiness and abundant blessings!