Like the American holiday of Thanksgiving, Chong Yang Ri (重陽日, the Double Ninth Festival), celebrates a good harvest with good friends. Double Ninth Day: referring to the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It was a hearty meal of chicken and rice (no doubt there were delicious sides of yam), accompanied by the drinking of chrysanthemum wine, which symbolized good luck and longevity between good friends, old friends, and dear friends.
Preparing chicken and rice, an old friend
Invites me to his farmhouse.
In a forest of trees, is his village
Beyond, the pale blue mountains.
In an open pavilion, facing his fields,Meng Haoran, Stopping By an Old Friend’s Farmhouse
Toasting with wine, talking of mulberry and hemp.
Awaiting Chong Yang Ri
And the blossoming Chrysanthemums
故人具雞黍，邀我至田家。孟浩然 , [過故人莊]
Gùrén jù jī shǔ, yāo wǒ zhì tiánjiā.Mewng Haoran, [Guò Gùrén Zhuāng]
Lǜ shù cūn biān hé, qīng shān guō wài xiá.
Kāi xuān miàn chǎng pǔ, bǎ jiǔ huà sāngmá.
Dài dào Chóngyáng rì, huán lái jiù júhuā.
Stopping by an Old Friend’s Farm
Good ships and wood ships,A traditional Thanksgiving toast
All sail the sea, but,
To me, the best ships are friendships.
May they always be.
Owing to the fact that the farmer raises mulberry and hemp, we learn that this is a silk farm and a little chrysanthemum wine to warm the winter nights.
This poem by Meng Haoran has the same feeling as Robert Frost’s melancholic Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, except Meng’s poem is more convivial, as he and his host share a hearty meal, drink wine, and talk of crops and the upcoming holiday, and the chrysanthemums to follow.
Meng Haoran hailed from Hubei Province in central China, a center for silk farming and mulberry trees.