People pay tribute to the dragon king of sea and god of salt on the occasion of Longtaitou Festival in Weifang, east China’s Shandong Province, March. 2, 2014. The Longtaitou Festival, or Eryueer Festival, which means “dragon raises head” in Chinese, is the starting day of farm and fishery work of a year. People held the sacrificial ceremony to pray for seasonable weather with gentle breeze and timely rain in fishing and salt industry.
Hair cut on Longtaitou Festival for good luck
The most famous tradition on this day is to have a haircut. Some people believed that going to the barber on the second day of the second month would get rid of bad luck, while others believed it was very bad luck to get a haircut during the first month of the lunar calendar.
There’s an old saying, “Cut your hair in the first month and your uncle will die.” Nowadays most people pay no attention to the tradition but seniors say in the old days patrons would line up outside barber shops on the Dragon Head Raising Festival.
The traditional Chinese Longtaitou Festival, or Dragon Head Raising Festival, falls on the second day of the second lunar month every year, which refers to the start of spring and farming. The festival falls on March 10 this year.
Ancient people believed that after the second day of the second month on the Chinese lunar calendar, the rain will increase because the rain-bringing Dragon King has awakened from his winter sleep.
There is a widely known idiomatic phrase which goes, “Er yue er, long tai tou”. It means “On the second day of the second month, the dragon lifts his head.”
The festival is a reflection of the ancient agrarian Chinese culture, and some of the old ways to celebrate the festival are no longer in practice, but some still carry on.
Food connected to the Longtaitou Festival
People eat toufu balls in East China’s Fujian province during this festival. People often make the tofu and vegetable balls to pray for family and business.
Traditional chengyao cakes are sold in Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu province. Suzhou has a tradition of eating chengyao cake on this day as an old saying goes, if you eat chengyao cake on Longtaitou, your waist will not hurt all year. Chengyao cake is a kind of Chinese traditional cake made with sticky rice.
People in parts of Shandong province eat fried beans to celebrate the festival.
There are also food with dragon names. Dumplings, spring rolls and popcorn are all given dragon names. 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).
The Longtaitou Festival (simplified Chinese: 龙抬头; traditional Chinese: 龍抬頭; pinyin: Lóng Táitóu), also known as the Eryueer Festival（二月二）, is a traditional Chinese festival held on the second day of the second month of the Chinese calendar. The festival is a reflection of the ancient agrarian Chinese culture. In the tradition of Chinese culture, the dragon is believed to be the king of all creatures and the ancestor of human beings. It is also believed to be in charge of bringing rains, and both of these are important factors in ancient agricultural society. It is literally referred to as “Dragon rising its head” (lóng tái tóu, 龙抬头) because the dragon was traditionally regarded in China as the deity in charge of rain, an important factor in ancient agriculture. It is sometimes also simply called “2 Month 2”, (Er Yue Er, 二月二) for short. Longtaitou Festival is different from Zhonghe Festival for the latter was an official festival and holiday in the Tang and Song Dynasties, and it was celebrated on the first day of the second month of the Chinese calendar.
Longtaitou Festival is celebrated around the time of Jingzhe, one of the 24 solar terms (節氣). The phrase Jing Zhe (驚蟄) has the meaning of awakening of the hibernated (implying insects). Jing (驚) is startling, and Zhe (蟄) is hibernated (insects). This is the time during which the hibernating insects begun to wake up at the beginning of early spring, which is often accompanied by the arrival of the first rains, meaning the weather is getting warm. Longtaitou Festival is an important worship ritual of wishing for good harvest in the coming months. In addition to paying respect to Dragon King, was often paid to Tu Di Gongtoo and wishes are often made at the temples for Tu Di Gong. Another ancient practice to celebrate Longtaitou Festival was to get rid of insect pests in homes via fumigation by burning various herbs with recognized insect repellent effects.
Today, Longtaitou Festival is celebrated in various ways, most of which are still identical to those practiced in the ancient times, including eating Chinese pancakes (春饼) and noodles. Perfume bags filled with the powder of ground fragrant herbs are made to be carried by women and children for good fortune, though they are no longer used as insect repellent as in ancient times. Another ancient celebration still practiced today is that Longtaitou Festival is the first day of the Taihao (太昊) temple fair that lasts until the third day of the third month of the lunar calendar. Taihao (太昊) temple fair is a celebration of ancestral deities Fuxi and Nüwa and Longtaitou Festival marking the beginning of this celebration.
There were ancient traditions of celebrating Longtaitou Festival that are no longer practiced, including:
- Women should not practice sewing because needles could puncture the eyes of dragon.
- Plant ashes were spread around the house, and then inside the house, and finally around the earthen jug, symbolizing inviting the dragon to provide enough rain for good harvests.