Chung Yeung Festival/ Double Ninth Festival

Chung Yeung Festival

The Festival falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, people usually pay homage to their ancestors, i.e. go tomb-sweeping and have a custom of mountain climbing. It is also called Double Ninth Festival and “climbing festival.” This year, the festival falls on 7 October 2019.

chung yeung festival hong kong

Double Ninth Festival story and philosophy

Literally, Chung means double and Yeung means yang, which derived from the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang. Here are some examples for you to digest: Mountain is yang, the plain is yin; heat is yang, cold is yin; male is yang, female is yin. Nine is regarded as a yang number so that the festival is called Chung Yeung Festival or Double Ninth Festival. The concept of yin and yang is originated from the ancient Chinese people’s view of nature. The ancients observed that something apparently opposite are actually complementary in the natural world.

It is said that the custom of mountain climbing originated in the Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD). There was a fortune teller who told a villager, Huan Jing, that he had to bring his family to the highest point in the village so as to avoid a disaster. Eventually, the entire village experienced a catastrophe but he and his family survived because of mountain climbing. Since then, people follow the custom of mountaineering.

Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong – What to do?

It is a public holiday in Hong Kong. On the Double Ninth Day, some people go to ancestral graves with the whole extended families to pay their respects. They usually bring along with joss sticks, fruit, pastries a chicken and a roast suckling pig. Areas near cemeteries get very crowded at this time every year, even the weekends before and after the festival.

Some people choose to go hiking on this occasion. You can join this team for mountain climbing and don’t feel guilty for not being able to visit your ancestors’ graves. We all understand that. No matter you are expats, exchange students or tourists, you can fly a kite in country parks, admire chrysanthemums, drink chrysanthemum wine, eat Chung Yeung cake and roast suckling pig. It is always a good idea to gather with family and friends. If you still have no idea of where to go, I recommend you to visit the Peak, the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island.

What did I do?

For me, I used to enjoy this festival a lot. Of course, it was not because I wanted to see my grandparents passed away and be put into the ground. Rather, I did enjoy the great family gathering. As you may or may not know that most graves or cemeteries in Hong Kong are located on hills and usually in the countryside. The graves of my grandparents are not the exception. Therefore, visiting their graves require a bit of hiking and climbing. Once we arrived, we immediately started cleaning, laying out food offerings, weeding, repainting inscriptions, burning paper money and clothing, etc. After an hour or so, job done! We went down the hill and rewarded ourselves with soft drinks at the grocery store around the corner. Then we headed to the restaurant nearby and had lunch together. Sometimes, we dismissed there; sometimes, we continued the “party” at my relatives’ home and stay till late. What a day!

However, we seldom do that now as my cousins and siblings are not children anymore. Rather, they would prefer to spend time with their own families and have to take care of their little ones. I guess this happens to people all over the world. Well, there is nothing wrong. I can just say “time flies”, and I miss those good old days. By the way, I miss my grandmother very much (my mother’s mother). Perhaps I have to go “hiking and climbing” on the Double Ninth Festival this year.

What about you? Are you going to climb a mountain on the Chung Yeung Festival this year?

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