This year, the Longtaitou Festival falls on 7th March, 2019. Let's learn about the origins, traditions, customs, and the legend of the blue dragon!
The Longtaitou Festival
The Spring Festival and Lantern Festival went by in a flash and here we are in March! Longtaitou Festival falls on the 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month. This year, it happens to be 7th March, 2019.
Long 龍 (Dragon)
what’s this about the dragon raising its head?
Ancient Chinese regarded dragons as a sacred creature whom have control over the rain. For an agrarian society, rain was a vital resource directly related to their livelihood. Therefore, before spring arrived, farmers held rituals to ask for blessings from the Dragons and would pray for a good harvest. During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the day when farmers held these rituals was designated as the Longtaitou festival.
The Longtaitou Festival,
also known as 二月二 (Eryueer - second day of second month) and The Blue Dragon Festival, is celebrated on the second day of the second Chinese lunar month when animals and plants have “awakened” from their winter hibernation. The dragon’s head raise marks the awakening of the mystical creature.
And, what's the origin of a Chinese holiday with out a legend?
The Blue Dragon
It is said that the Jade Emperor was unhappy that China had chosen a female emperor Wu Zetian during the Tang Dynasty. The Jade Emperor ordered the dragon kings to stop the rain for three years as a punishment to the people of China. Unable to stand by and watch the starvation, the blue dragon king in charge of the skies created a heavy rain. After finding out about such defiance, the Jade Emperor expelled the dragon from his position in the heavenly palace and sentenced him under a mountain with the words ‘The dragon king violated the law of heaven. Unless golden beans bloom, he shall not be saved'.
The next year, on the second day of the second lunar month, while people dried corn seeds under the sun, they noticed the seeds looking golden after roasting. They heated them further to let the golden beans bloom and made popcorn in the process. The dragon king, after hearing that the people were trying to save him, raised his head and shouted to the Jade Emperor to notice the golden beans in full bloom. After seeing this, the Jade Emperor allowed the return of the dragon king to the heavenly palace and placed him back in charge of making wind and rain. From then on, the custom of eating popcorn (or fried soybeans in some places) on the 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month began. The day celebrates the freedom of the dragon king from exile. For the dragon that saved the people from drought by bringing rains.
A hair cut on Dragon Heads Raising Day is the most famous tradition and stands for good luck. Some people believed that going to the barber on the second day of the second month would get rid of bad luck, unlike a hair cut on the first month of the lunar calendar which would bring bad luck.
In the old days, patrons would line up outside the barber shops on Longtaitou festival.
You will likely notice an increase of people at your local barber shop. Let us know in the comments if you see more people than usual lining up for a cut!
There are several interesting traditions no longer followed in modern times.
- Women should not practice sewing on this day because needles can puncture the eyes of the dragon should it choose to visit.
- Plant ashes should be spread around the house, and inside the house, and finally around an earthen jug, to symbolize the invitiation to the dragon to provide rain for good harvests.
Food of Longtaitou Festival.
Every festival has its own unique food. People in East China's Fujian province eat tofu balls during the festival. They often prepare the tofu and vegetable balls to ask for blessings for the family and business. In Suzhou, the Chinese have a tradition of eating a sticky rice cake known as the chengyao cake 撑腰糕 (literal meaning: supporting the waist) as an old saying goes, if you eat chengyao cake on Longtaitou, your waist will not hurt all year. In Shandong province, people eat fried beans to celebrate the festival.
People all over China have different dishes to celebrate this festival, and some are given names that are associated with dragons. For instance, noodles are called dragon's beard (long xu), dumpling are dragon's ears (long er), spring rolls are dragon's scales (long lin), and popcorn is called dragon seeds (long zi).
You probably know that there is a lot more to Chinese New Yearl than exchanging red packets and having a long holiday, in this article we’ll visit
The Legend of Nian.
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