Culture - Dragon Head-raising Day

by Wendy

The Dragon Head-raising Day is a traditional Chinese festival held on the second day of the second month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It is also called 二月二 Festival. In 2021, it falls on Mar 14 in the Western calendar.

In Chinese culture, the dragon is an auspicious animal that dominates clouds and rains. The 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month is thought to be the day that dragon awakes. After the day, spring is coming and there will be more and more rains. People think these credits go to the dragon.

Traditions And Customs

The most popular custom on the Dragon Head-raising Day is cutting hair. Dragon is highly esteemed for its dignity and power for good. It is thought to be auspicious to cut hair on the Dragon Heads-raising Day. Luck and opportunities will always knock you in the year.

So, on that day, barbershops' businesses are prospering and full of customers. According to the Chinese tradition, it's bad luck to cut hair during the first lunar month. As the Chinese saying goes ‘If you cut your hair in the first lunar month, your uncle will die.' So, people usually cut hair before the first lunar month and wait to the Dragon Heads-raising Day to cut again.

 People in different areas have different traditions about the food on the day. The most common foods for celebrating the festival are popcorns, pancakes, noodles, dumplings, fried soy beans and pig's head.

To be auspicious, what people eat on the Dragon Heads-raising Day is usually renamed after parts of the dragon. Eating dumplings is called eating "dragon's ears," spring pancakes are called "dragon's scales," rice is called "dragon's son", wontons are "dragon's eyes", pancake is the "dragon scale bing", noodles are "dragon beard noodles", and fried dough twists are "dragon's bones", etc. These show people's hope to be blessed with favorable weather and bumper grain harvest by the dragon.

In some places people go to suburb for relaxing on the day. Also some people worship to the dragon or earth god with the hope that there would be rains helping the agriculture.  

Taboos To Be Avoided

On the Dragon Heads-raising Day, women are not allowed to do needle work. As the dragon will raise its head to look towards the earth, people thinks needles may hurt its eyes. In some places, washing clothes is also a taboo to be avoided. This is afraid of hurting dragon's skin.

Legend

There is a legend about why people eat popcorns on Heads-raising Day. It is said that the Jade Emperor was unhappy that China had a female emperor Wu Zetian in Tang Dynasty. He ordered to the dragon kings to stop raining for three years to punish China. Couldn't bear to see the humans starved to death, the dragon king in charge of the heaven river made a heavy rain secretly. After knowing this, the Jade Emperor expelled him from the heavenly palace and pressed him under a mountain with a stele written ‘The dragon king violated the law of heaven. Unless golden beans bloom, he couldn't be saved'.

To save the dragon king, people tried to find the gold beans everywhere. The next year, on the second day of the second lunar month, when people were drying the corn seeds under the sun, they found the corn seeds looked like gold beans. They heated them and made popcorn to let the golden beans bloom. After knowing the people tried to save him, the dragon king raised its head and shouted to the Jade Emperor to see the golden beans bloom in families. After seeing this, the Jade Emperor was allowed to return to the heavenly palace and in charge of making wind and rain again. From then on, there is the custom of eating popcorns (or fried soy beans in some places) on the 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month.


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