According to Chinese culture, 9 is a “positive” number ( yang in Chinese), and double (or chong in Chinese) nine means chongyang. The pronunciation of 9 in Chinese is the same as eternal or forever. So the festival, which falls on Sept 9 on the lunar calendar, is regarded as especially auspicious.
The festival, dating back to the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), gained prominence during the Wei and Jin dynasties (220420) and became a national festival during the Tang Dynasty. It is regarded as the most important festival after Spring Festival, MidAutumn Day, Tomb Sweeping Day and Dragon Boat Festival, and is celebrated by Chinese people living outside the country, particularly those in East and Southeast Asia.
The government ascribed another name, Senior Citizens’ Festival, to the day in 1989 to promote respect for senior citizens, and listed it in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritages in 2006.
The customs associated with the festival include mountain climbing, admiring chrysanthemum, wearing cornels to drive away ghosts, eating chongyang cake (which sounds like high in Chinese, meaning climbing high) and drinking chrysanthemum wine.