Friday, September 09, 2005

Chrysanthemum Day

This is one of the five sacred festivals of ancient Japan. A wondrous display of chrysanthemum varieties was held on this day. Figures of trained chrysanthemums are displayed, chrysanthemum wine is drunk and, in Korea, on the ninth day of the Ninth Moon people in every house eat chrysanthemum cakes, a kind of dumpling made from mixing yellow chrysanthemum petals with rice and flour. Honey water, with mandarin oranges, pears, pomegranates, and pinenuts floating in it, is drunk. Many go to view the crimson maple leaves.

An interesting custom associated with this festival is that of putting cotton wool on the chrysanthemum flowers on the eve of the festival day. The next morning the cotton, now wet with either dew or frost, is removed and the body wiped with it. This is known as "cotton nursing of the chrysanthemum" and shows the desire both to protect the flowers and to use the dew of the early frosts to cure the ailments of mankind.

from "Japanese Festival and Calendar Lore" by William Hugh Erskine and "Folk Customs and Family Life" by Tae Hung Ha.


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