The Culture and Traditions of China’s Longtaitou Festival

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In China, there’s a traditional Chinese Festival called the Longtaitou Festival, or Dragon-Head-Raising Festival, which falls on the second day of the second lunar month every year. This year it falls on March 8, and that daykicks off the start of spring and farming.

The ancients believed that after this day, rainfall increases because the Dragon King has awakened from his winter slumber and brings forth rain-bringing furry.

A well-known phrase goes, “Eryueer, long tai tou,” (Which could be pronounced as, ‘Errr-Uwe-errr Long Title’) meaning, “On the second day of the second month, the dragon lifts his head.”

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Photo from international conference

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Performers are the middle of a dragon dance in the photo above are performing in Liaoning province, a city called,Shenyang, which is in the North-eastern part of China. March 8, 2019. ‘Eryueer’, or the second day of the second month on the Chinese Lunar calendar, is the festival where the “dragon raises its head” according to Chinese people, marking when winter turns to spring.

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Photo from Xinhua

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The festival celebrates ancient agrarian Chinese culture, and while some of traditional ways to celebrate it are no longer practiced, others persist.
The most famous tradition is getting a haircut. Some believe that going to the barber on this day gets rid of bad luck, while others believe getting a haircut during the first month of the lunar calendar brings bad luck.
Another saying warns that cutting your hair in the first month will cause your uncle to die. Although today few pay attentions to it, it was once tradition to line up outside barber shops on the day of Longtaitou, having avoided haircuts for the preceding month.

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A saleswoman in a well-known pastry shop on Guanqian street, Suzhou, sells Chengyao(rice-mashed) cakes on March 21, 2015.
The culinary traditions of Longtaitou Festival
People eat doufuballs in East China’s Fujian province during the festival andis often made of doufuand vegetable that symbolizes prayer for family and business. Fried beans are the traditional festival fare for people in parts of Shandong province.
Eating Chengyao(rice-mashed) cakes, which are made from sticky rice, during the festival is tradition in Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu province, in tribute jokingly say, “If you eat Chengyaoon Longtaitou, your waistline won’t hurt all year.”

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A man shows longxu noddles in Linfen city, North China’s Shanxi province, on Sept 30, 2016. 

Meanwhile throughout China, other symbolic foods, like dumplings, spring rolls and believe it or not, popcorn, are named after dragon parts to happily start the day. Noodles characterizes the dragon’s beard (which in Chinese is called, Long xu), dumplings are the dragon’s ears (Long er), spring rolls are the dragon’s scales (Long lin), and popcorn represents the dragon seeds (Long zi).