Chinese Elder Day (Double Nines)
The Elder day is the Double-Nine Festival, the 9th day of 9th lunar month. The Chinese called this festival Chung-Yang Jie. The Elder day was re-established by the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1974. This is because the government wants to teach the youth respect for the elders. Today, the mayors in the major cities in Taiwan will visit the houses of senior citizens on Double Nines day to ensure that the next generation will remember this festival.
The new generation in China donít celebrate this festival, because this is not a fun day for young people. So people forget the legend. The story of the Double-Nine Festival began in the Han Dynasty. One person, called Mr. Chai (around 50-150 B.C.), who lived in the palace liked to wear dogwood (leaf) and drink chrysanthemum wine in the 9th lunar month. He said that the dogwood can warn people of impending disaster and that they would live longer after drinking chrysanthemum wine in the 9th lunar month.
The chrysanthemum flower is the prettiest flower in the 9th lunar month. Indeed, The other name of the 9th lunar month is chrysanthemum month. The best chrysanthemum wine is made from the 9th monthís flowers. The dogwood is hard to find in town. So, people might go to the hills to find the dogwood. At the same time they might visit their ancestors' tombs in the hills and clean them up as they do during the Ching-Ming Festival. In later times, people only visited the tombs during the Ching-Ming Festival and went to the hills for hiking during the Double-Nine Festival like today. Hiking to the hill means getting higher in one's career. Traditionally, Chinese made Chung-Yang cake during the festival, because Chinese pronounce ďcakeĒ and ďhighĒ with the same sound. Today too many Chinese make the cake anymore.
Since it is so beautiful, artists like to paint the chrysanthemum in the 9th lunar month and poets like to make poems on the night of the Double-Nine Festival.
It is customary, on the day of the Double-Nine Festival, for Chinese to hike on the hill. During the evening they should carry a bag of dogwood and go to Double-Nine Festival party. They drink the chrysanthemum wine, watch the chrysanthemums and talk about paintings and poetry.
Today, Chinese donít have the time to celebrate this festival, since this is not a national holiday in China. In Taiwan, some people will fly kites in competitions during that weekend, because itís usually windy in the 9th lunar month.