Guest Author - Inci Yilmazli
Have you ever heard of a festival that is about rain? A festival that celebrates the increase of rainfall? If not, you are about to! In Chinese Culture, Spring Dragon Festival is celebrated on the day that the rainfall is believed to start increasing.
Spring Dragon Festival, the Chunlong Festival, which is also known as Dragon Head Festival. Itís celebrated on the second day of the second lunar month. There is an idiom that is widely known in mostly Northern China that ď the dragon lifts its head on the second day of the second lunar month (Er yue er, long tai tou (二月二,龙抬头).
Why is it called Dragon Head or Spring Dragon Festival?
Let me tell you two of the legends regarding this festival and then you will be able to find the answer!
In one legend, itís said that long ago, there was a drought in Central China. The Jade Emperor ordered a young dragon in charge of rain to bring rain on the land, however, the young dragon refused to do so. On the second day of the second month, this young dragon was challenged by a warrior and lost the battle. Therefore, he had to rain on the land just as the Jade Emperor asked him to do in the first place.
Another legend takes place in the Tang Dynasty. When the Empress Wu Zeitan got the throne, the Emperor in the heaven became angry that a female dared to rule. So, as a punishment, he withheld rain for three years. However, the dragon that is in charge of the rain felt bad for the humans and ended the drought by secretly casting rain on the land. When the Emperor found out what happened, he expelled the dragon from heaven and kept the dragon under a mountain. On the mountain, there was a stele that read ďthe dragon broke the rule and wonít be set free until the golden beans give birth to flowers.Ē
When people heard what happened to the dragon, they started looking for golden beans. On the second day of the second lunar month, they found the golden beans, seeds of corn. Corn seeds are like golden beans and when the corn is popped, itís like the golden beans blossom. So, everybody started to pop the corn and offer the blossomed golden beans as sacrifice. When the dragon lifted his head and saw all this, he knew that people were trying to save him. So, he cried to the Emperor, ďThe golden beans have blossomed, so set me free!Ē The Emperor had no other choice but to set the dragon free and allow him back to heaven. Since then, it is a custom to pop corn on the second day of the second lunar month.
Even though itís not practiced often, itís believed that getting a haircut on this day would get rid of bad luck and bring good luck. As you can guess, the special food of the festival is popcorn. Also, people eat noodles and fry cakes. Some foods have special names related to dragons such as noodles which are called dragonís beard, or dumplings called dragonís ears, spring rolls called dragonís scales and popcorn called dragon seeds.
Another custom is to go and get water from rivers. When people come back home with the water they got from rivers, they turn the lights on, burn joss sticks and offer sacrifices. This ceremony is practiced to get the attention of dragon on the field.