Origin of the Double Ninth Festival
It is said that in the ancient China, probably in Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, the emperor and his attendants would wear the zhuyu plant, which is also called cornel twigs (dogwood), eat the rice cakes and drink the chrysanthemum wine to dispel ominous stuff and pray longevity. But afterwards, the empress of Emperor Gaozu of Han killed his lover Mrs Qi cruelly, consequently, Qi's attendant, a girl was dismissed out of the palace and married a civilian, so the custom in the palace was in circulation.
In 1989, China rededicated the holiday as "Senior Citizens' Day”, underscoring one custom as it is observed in China, where the festival is also an opportunity to care for and appreciate the elderly.
Double Ninth may have originated as a day to drive away danger, but like the Chinese New Year, over time it became a day of celebration. In contemporary times it is an occasion for hiking and chrysanthemum appreciation.
Stores sell rice cakes (糕 "gāo", a homophone for height 高) inserted with mini colorful flags to represent dogwood. Most people drink chrysanthemum tea, while a few strict traditionalists drink homemade chrysanthemum wine.