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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in China Series at ChineseClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Chinese holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 11, Double Ninth Festival. In Chinese, it’s called 重阳节 (chóngyáng jié).
The Double Ninth Festival is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth month of the lunar year and originated in ancient times when people celebrated the autumn harvest for the year.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
Why is this holiday called the Double Ninth Day in Chinese?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Traditionally, the customs of the Double Ninth Festival include ascending heights, enjoying chrysanthemums, and drinking. Ascending heights or 登高 (dēnggāo) is an elegant way to say hiking. In many northern areas, autumn is the best time to be outdoors, with clear skies and crisp air. That’s why many people choose to go out, hike, and enjoy the views. During the Double Ninth Festival, people not only ascend heights, but also eat cakes. In Chinese, "cake" is called 糕 (gāo) and is a homonym of "height" 高 (gāo), which gives an auspicious impression of rising step by step.
The chrysanthemum or 菊花 (júhuā) symbolizes longevity and is one of the most popular flowers in China. There has long been a tradition of enjoying chrysanthemums at the Double Ninth Festival. Hence, the Double Ninth Festival is also called the Chrysanthemum Festival. In fact, the whole ninth lunar month is the month of chrysanthemums. Many flower markets and botanical gardens hold chrysanthemum exhibitions one after another, attracting tourists who enjoy the flowers and take photos.
In recent years, the Double Ninth Festival has also been called the Elderly Festival since in Chinese, “nine” 九 (jiǔ) is a homonym of “long” 久 (jiǔ), which has the meaning of long life. Thus, people usually commemorate their ancestors or organize activities to show respect to the elderly on that day.
At the Double Ninth Festival, people drink chrysanthemum wine, which is made from chrysanthemums and glutinous rice. It is said that chrysanthemum wine can protect eyesight and prevent aging. If you like drinking, you may want to try it.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
Why is this holiday called the Double Ninth Day in Chinese?
In ancient China, numbers are subdivided into two opposing types—Yin, the feminine principle, and Yang, the masculine principle. Since nine is a Yang number and the ninth day of the ninth lunar month has two Yang numbers, it’s called “double ninth” or “double yang” 重阳 (chóngyáng).
What did you think of this lesson? Did you learn many interesting things?
What festivals take place in autumn in your country? Please leave a comment telling us at ChineseClass101.com, and I'll see you in our next lesson. Bye!