Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Chongyang Festival

The above clip is a very famous verse, 《醉花阴》,written by the Song dynasty female poet, Li Qingzhao (李清照), about how badly she missed her husband who was away on official business on the Chongyang Festival (重阳节).

Chongyang Festival falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, hence it is also called the Double Ninth Festival.

The festival took place a week ago on Wednesday.  As is customary with traditional Chinese festivals, there are special food to go with it, so I spent a whole day in the kitchen making the various desserts from scratch, as these specific festive food cannot be bought in the UK.

These are by no means the only type of dessert to be had in the traditional sense.  I only made what I can manage to do with the ingredients I could find:

  1. Chrysanthemum Tea (菊花茶)
  2. Chrysanthemum Crisp (菊花酥)
  3. Goji Chrysanthemum Cake (枸杞菊花糕
  4. Tricolor Chongyang Cake (三色重阳糕) 
  5. Chestnut Chongyang Cake (桂花板栗重阳糕)
Tiger's favourites are (2), (4) and (5).

Besides eating specific food, there are so specific customs associated with the Chongyang Festival.

Usually the Chinese people will go for a hike on the hills or mountains on this day to be in touch with nature.  Since we don't have hills or mountains near us, Tiger and I got our nature fix by doing some gardening.

You might have noticed that the chrysanthemum flower features very prominently at the Chongyang Festival -- hence Tiger's gardening task was to pot a bunch of chrysanthemum.  To the Chinese people, the chrysanthemum flower symbolises elegance and courage.  It is therefore a significant symbol of autumn for us.

Tiger asked whether there is a poem that goes with the Chongyang Festival, to which I replied that there are many but the most beautiful is the verse by Li Qingzhao, which is shown in the clip at the beginning of this post.  He is not ready to learn it yet though, as the depth of emotions described in the verse and the masterful use of language are beyond his comprehension at present.


  1. Gosh, once again Hwee I am so impressed at your labours in the name of authenticity and sharing Chinese culture with Tiger. I would like to try chrysanthemum tea, and those cakes look delicious.

    I like chrysanthemums; they often seem rather mundane when you see them in the shop beside more showy flowers like lilies, but when you bring them home they always reward you by lasting forever. And your potted ones will last even longer, of course!

    1. I'd invite you and the children over if you were living nearby! :-) The chrysanthemum tea is very easy to make. All you need to do is to get a pack of dried chrysanthemum flowers (I bought mine from the Chinese supermarket in Chinatown) and add hot water to it. It's very refreshing to drink.

      The chrysanthemum is one of the few flowers that blossom in autumn, which is why it is so special to the Chinese people at this time of year.


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