Do you know the Chinese Double Ninth Festival really?

As the annual Double Ninth Festival in China is coming, as for this traditional Chinese festival, how much do you know about?

The Double Ninth Festival - the ninth day of the ninth lunar month

The "Chong Yang Festival" is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, and it is as such known as the Double Ninth Festival.

Origins: The festival began as early as the Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC). According to the yin/yang dichotomy that forms a basis to the Chinese world view, yin represents the elements of darkness and yang represents life and brightness. The number nine is regarded as yang. The ninth day of the ninth month is a double yang day, hence the name "Chong Yang Festival". (Chong means "repeat" in Chinese.) The ninth month also heralds the approach of winter. It is a time when the living need warm clothing, and filial Chinese sons and daughters extended this to make the festival a time for providing winter clothes for their ancestors. The Double Ninth Festival, therefore, also became an occasion to visit the graves of dead family members. Clothes made of paper would then be burnt as offerings.

The custom of ascending a height to avoid epidemics was passed down from long time ago. Therefore, the Double Ninth Festival is also called "Height Ascending Festival". The height people will reach is usually a mountain or a tower. Ancient literary figures have left many poems depicting the activity. Even today, people still swarm to famous or little known mountains on this day.

On this day, people will eat Double Ninth Gao (or Cake). In Chinese, gao (cake) has the same pronunciation with gao (height). People do so just to hope progress in everything they are engaged in. There is no fixed ways for the Double Ninth Cake, but super cakes will have as many as nine layers, looking like a tower.

The Double Ninth Festival is also a time when chrysanthemum blooms. China boasts diversified species of chrysanthemum and people have loved them since ancient times. So enjoying the flourishing chrysanthemum also becomes a key activity on this festival. Also, people will drink chrysanthemum wine. Women used to stick such a flower into their hair or hang its branches on windows or doors to avoid evilness.

In 1989, the Chinese government decided the Double Ninth Festival as Seniors' Day. Since then, all government units, organizations and streets communities will organize an autumn trip each year for those who have retired from their posts. At the waterside or on the mountains, the seniors will find themselves merged into nature. Younger generations will bring elder ones to suburban areas or send gifts to them on this day.

* Originally archive: Do you know the Chinese Double Ninth Festival really?


Chinese Author Mo Yan Wins 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2012 is awarded to the Chinese writer Mo Yan, who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.

Nowadays, there are hallucinatory realism from a Chinese writer. To find out more about Mo Yan and his works, please go on with me.

Actually, before the winner was announced - we knew that Mo Yan was a top candidate. China's very happy that this turned out to be the case. A lot of people in this country may not recognize his name immediately. But he's actually one of the best-known Chinese writers in the West because a lot of his work has been translated into English. And his novel "Red Sorghum" was made into a film, which was widely seen in the West. It was made in 1987. And he's been influenced by writers like William Faulkner and the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, certainly familiar writers to many of us in this country and the rest of the West. And as you just heard, in announcing the award this morning, the Swedish Academy described his writing as hallucinatory realism that merges folk tales, history and the contemporary. His writing's also been described as experimental and unique.

Other novels by Mo Yan include "The Republic of Wine," "Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out" and "The Garlic Ballads." He's said to be so prolific that he wrote "Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out," which is a 500,000 word epic, in just 43 days. He wrote it with a brush, not a computer, because he says a computer would have slowed him down because he can't control himself when he's online. He always has to search out more information.

His work is mostly about peasant life set in the countryside. He often writes about the area where he grew up in Shandong Province. He has said that folk literature, storytellers, his own family's stories have been a resource for him. He grew up during the Cultural Revolution. When it ended, he joined the army, and that's when he began writing.

Something very interesting: Mo Yan is a pen name and it means: Don't Speak. And he said he took on that name because when he was growing up during the Cultural Revolution, his parents told him not to speak or to say what he really thought outside of his home. And he says that's very ironic because he's speaking all the time.

China has felt it's been snubbed by the Nobel committee in the past. The only other Chinese writer to get a Nobel in literature was actually a French citizen. And Mo Yan is the vice chair of the state-sanctioned writer's committee. And, you know, he's actually been criticized for his tolerance for public censors in China because in a country where writers are banned and even imprisoned, Mo Yan has cooperated with authorities. Although on literary scholar said: He's an honest writer who knows how to survive in the coercive censorship of China.

* Originally archive:  Chinese Author Mo Yan Wins 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature