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Spring Dragon Festival in China

By Lu Feiran (Shanghai Daily)

08:46, March 13, 2013

(file photo)

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.

The day known as the Chunlong Festival, meaning Spring Dragon Festival, but the name is not as widely known as the idiomatic phrase "Er yue er, long tai tou (二月二,龙抬头)," meaning "On the second day of the second month, the dragon lifts his head."

Today (March 13) is the second day of the second month and, hence, the Spring Dragon Festival on the lunar calendar.

Virtually the only remaining custom is getting a good-luck haircut, and this is not often practiced.

There are numerous legends about the day. According to one, long ago in an unknown dynasty, central China suffered a very long drought. The Jade Emperor, the supreme deity of Taoism, ordered a young dragon to go forth and cast rain on the land, but the dragon just wanted to frolic and swim in a river. He refused to emerge and bring rain.

On the second day of the second month, a warrior challenged the dragon who had to raise his head to accept the battle. Eventually the dragon was defeated and agreed to make rain.

Another popular legend involves Empress Wu Zetian, the only empress in Chinese history. It is said that during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), after Wu usurped the throne, the Jade Emperor was furious that a female would dare to rule and punished China by withholding rain for three years. The rain-bringing dragon took pity on the humans and secretly ended the drought with life-giving rains.

On learning the truth, the emperor was enraged with the dragon, expelled him from the heavenly palace and entombed him beneath a mountain. He erected a monument with the inscription, "The dragon has sinned, hence, he shall not be freed until golden beans bloom."

On the second day of the second month one year, while farmers were sowing corn in their fields, they found kernels that looked like golden beans. People started to heat them and make popcorn, to let the golden beans bloom.

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