Climbing mountains & Chongyang Gao

Even thought the tradition of carrying a few sptigs of dogwood dies out, that of climbing mountains is reaching new heights.

Early in the Western Han Dynasty, about 2,000 years ago, people used to climb a high platform outside the capital city of Chang'an on the occasion of the Chongyang Festival. For many, it was the last outing of the year before the onset of winter. The custom evolved into its present form, when people go climbing to get some exercise as well as enjoy the autumn scenery.

But what about those people who live in flat regions far from any mountain? The problem is solved by going for a picnic and eating cakes. The Chinese word for cake is Gao, a homonym of the Chinese word for high. Mountains are high, so eating cake can, by a stretch of the imagination, take the place of going for a climb.

Since nine is the highest odd digit, people take two of them together to signify longevity. Therefore, the ninth day of the ninth month has become a special day for people to pay their respects to the elderly and a day for the elderly to enjoy themselves. It has also been declared China's day for the elderly.

Other links
The Double Ninth/Chung Yeung Festival 重阳节介绍
Customs on Double Ninth/Chung Yeung Festival重阳节习俗
The legend of Chung Yeung Festival 重阳节传说