More than 8,000 Chinese from home and abroad gathered Friday morning at the tomb of Huangdi, the legendary Yellow Emperor who is considered the common ancestor of all Chinese.

The memorial ceremony started in Huangling County, Shaanxi Province at 9:50 a.m. That's an auspicious time because of the digits' association with the imperial line in ancient Chinese culture. The number nine is the biggest single-digit number, while five lies in the middle.

A drum was struck 34 times, once for each of China's 34 provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative regions

The Yellow Emperor, a sovereign and cultural hero in Chinese mythology, is believed to have reigned from 2,697 BC to 2,598 BC. Although he was an actual ruler, his deeds have been embellished with time: for example, he has been credited with introducing the systems of government and law to human kind, civilizing the Earth, teaching people many skills and inventing all manner of items.

China has commemorated the Yellow Emperor since the Spring and Autumn Period around 8 BC.

"Kindred or family lines are especially honored in Chinese culture," said Zhang Jingkui, a former professor at Xiamen University who now lives in Hong Kong. "Each spring when smoke from joss sticks rises in Chinese communities around the world, it is a unique event."