On March 14th, the second day of the second month in the lunar calendar, its the day when the "Dragon Lifts its Head." This term signifies the appearance of the "Azure Dragon" constellation in the eastern sky, marking the true awakening of all things as spring arrives.
The Origin of "Dragon Lifts its Head" on the Second Day of the Second Month
On the second day of the second month, when the dragon lifts its head,
May the winds and rains be favorable, and the harvest bountiful.
With the granaries full and the small storages flowing,
A good year begins with the arrival of spring.
In the northern regions, the second day of the second month is known as "Dragon Lifts its Head Day" or "Spring Dragon Festival." In the southern regions, its called "Greening Festival" or, in ancient times, "Picking Vegetables Festival." This tradition dates back to the Tang Dynasty.
From the perspective of solar terms, the second month of the lunar calendar falls between "Rain Water," "Awakening of Insects," and "Spring Equinox," and many parts of China have already entered the rainy season.
The ancients attributed this phenomenon to the dragon. In the eyes of the Chinese people, the dragon holds an exceptionally high position. It is not only a symbol of auspiciousness but also the master of wind and rain. Hence, the saying "On the second day of the second month, the dragon lifts its head."
Furthermore, on the second day of the second lunar month, as spring returns to the earth, all living things revive. Insects, snakes, and other creatures that have been dormant in the earth or caves awaken from their hibernation. The legendary dragon also awakens from its slumber, lifting its head on this day. This gives rise to the folk-beloved "Dragon Head Festival," also known as "Spring Dragon Festival," and the like.
After this day, rural areas gradually enter the busy season of spring plowing, involving activities like seed selection, field preparation, and plowing. Its a time when:
The dragon rises, and the fields come to life, The earth awakens, and the villagers thrive,
Awakening from dreams, as the warm early spring emerges,
The dragon lifts its head, ensuring abundant harvests through wind and rain.
The dragons tail sways, and in the fields, blossoms bloom like clouds,
The dragon scales shimmer as the five grains grace our homes.
The second day of the second lunar month is also known as the "Spring Dragon Festival."
Legend has it that during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, she angered the Jade Emperor and ordered the Dragon King not to bring rain for three years. Unable to bear the suffering and hunger of the people, the Dragon King secretly brought a heavy downpour. When the Jade Emperor discovered this, he imprisoned the Dragon King beneath a mighty mountain and declared to the world, "The Dragon King violated the heavenly rules by bringing rain and must endure a millennium of punishment. To return to the divine palace, the golden beans must blossom."
In a desperate attempt to rescue the Dragon King, people brainstormed until the second day of the second lunar month in the following year. A woman was carrying a bag of yellow beans on her way to visit relatives, but accidentally spilled them along the path. Under the sunlight, these golden beans gleamed brightly. People joyfully exclaimed, "This is the golden opportunity weve been waiting for!"
"Yellow beans? When roasted, dont they blossom?" People exclaimed. Every household then roasted and presented the freshly roasted and blossoming yellow beans in the courtyard, allowing the Dragon King to return to the heavenly realm.
Later, to commemorate the Dragon King, people began roasting yellow beans every year on the second day of the second lunar month. As they roasted, they recited the popular saying, "On the second day of the second month, eat (yellow) bean blossoms, adults and children each get a handful." During the Ming Dynasty, popcorn was introduced to China, and people started using fragrant popcorn to offer sacrifices to the Dragon King, a tradition that continues to this day.
The second day of the second lunar month is also known as the "Greening Festival."
The tradition of spring outings and picnics on the second day of the second lunar month dates back to the Tang Dynasty. In those days, the people of Changan, to add some excitement to their lives, would gather in groups and head to the outskirts for a spring picnic on the second day of the second month. Some women even brought baskets and spades to dig up fresh, tender shepherds purse for their meals.
Whats the significance of this practice? First, its about curing a hundred ailments. With winter behind and spring ahead, taking a stroll in the fields is highly beneficial for rejuvenating ones health and refining ones temperament.
Second, its about agricultural labor. During the spring outing, wild vegetables are harvested, and this activity helps prepare for the upcoming farming season.
Most of these customs take place in the fields, serving the dual purpose of clearing weeds and ensuring the healthy growth of wheat seedlings.
Thirdly, it involves culinary customs among the common folk. Eating wild vegetables is referred to as "eating greens" or "eating fresh." It is believed that in the spring, shepherds purse from the wheat fields not only provides rich nutrition but also helps cool the body and relieve heat.
The Custom of "Dragon Lifts its Head" on the Second Day of the Second Lunar Month
— Shaving the Dragons Head —
Theres a saying: "Without the dragon raising its head, there wont be rain." The dragon is a symbol of auspiciousness and the master of wind and rain.
On the second day of the second lunar month, people hope for the dragon to raise its head, bringing clouds and rain to nourish all living things. Hence, the tradition of "shaving the dragons head" on this day. In Chinese folklore, it is widely believed that shaving ones head on this day brings good luck and blessings, leading to the popular saying: "Shave the dragons head on the second day of the second month, and youll have a prosperous year." As a result, every barber shop is bustling with customers on this day, enjoying a thriving business.
— Paying Homage to the Dragon Deity —
In many northern regions of China, on the morning of this day, households carry lanterns to the well or river to fetch water. Upon returning home, they light candles, burn incense, and make offerings.
In the past, this ritual was known as "invoking the field dragon." Its purpose was to pray for widespread rainfall, the elimination of pests, and a bountiful harvest of the five grains.
— Seeking Blessings —
In addition to worshipping the dragon deity, various blessing-seeking activities are commonly held. These include dragon dances, wearing dragon tails, and initiating learning activities. In some fortunate years, local communities join forces to create a grass dragon. On the second day of the second lunar month, they take to the streets to dance with the dragon in celebration, hoping for a year of abundant harvests under the dragons protection.
— Circling the Granary —
The second day of the second lunar month falls around the time of "Awakening of Insects." It is a period when all kinds of insects become active, potentially threatening the stored crops. To protect the granaries from insect infestations, communities perform rituals like circling the granary on this day.
Diseases are prone to develop, and pests are natural enemies of crops. Therefore, people invoke the dragon to suppress these pests, hoping to harness the dragons power to subdue countless insects, safeguard the well-being of both humans and livestock, and ensure a bountiful harvest of the five grains.
— Savoring Dragon-themed Delicacies —
On the second day of the second lunar month, folk cuisine predominantly incorporates the theme of "dragons." Eating dumplings is referred to as "savoring dragon ears," rice becomes "dragon offspring," wonton is known as "dragon eyes," noodles are dubbed "supporting dragon whiskers," and even steamed cakes are adorned with dragon-scale patterns, becoming "dragon scale cakes." These customs symbolize peoples beautiful aspirations for blessings from the dragon, favorable weather, abundant harvests, and prosperity.
— Supporting Waist Cakes —
On the second day of the second lunar month in Suzhou, Jiangsu, there is a tradition of consuming "supporting waist cakes." Residents flock to pastry shops to purchase these cakes, seeking a year of health and well-being.
— Roasting Beans —
Many regions also follow the custom of roasting and consuming beans on this day. "Eating beans on the second day of the second month keeps illness at bay and ensures a bountiful harvest," they say. Partaking in various roasted bean delicacies...
Signifying the end of the year, this day marks the commencement of another year of diligent labor.
Poems on "Dragon Lifts its Head" on the Second Day of the Second Lunar Month
《The Second Day of the Second Month》
Tang Dynasty: Bai Juyi
On the second day of the second month, fresh rain clears the sky,
Tender shoots sprout in the fields and gardens,
Youth in lightweight garments and fine horses, the spring season unfolds,
At the crossroads of a river, they move forward confidently.
On the second day of the second month, the newly fallen rain clears the sky, and young sprouts emerge in the fields and gardens. At the crossroads by the river, a group of young people, dressed in lightweight clothing, leads spirited horses, reveling in the beauty of spring.
《The Second Day of the Second Month》
Tang Dynasty: Li Shangyin
On the second day of the second month, I journey along the river,
The eastern wind is warm, and the sound of flutes is heard.
Flowers and willows each have their charm,
Purple butterflies and yellow wasps both share emotions,
Recalling my homeland, I remember Yuanliang Well, a thousand miles away,
Three years spent in the service of Yaofu Camp,
On the New Beach, dont fathom the thoughts of travelers,
The sound of nighttime rain on the eaves adds to the melancholy.
This poem begins with the "beauty" of the natural scenery, pleasing to the heart. It then delves into the "sorrow" of the authors hardships and despair. The combination of these two aspects forms a unified whole. The more beautiful the spring scene, the stronger the authors sense of melancholy, using the contrast of joyous surroundings to emphasize his sorrowful thoughts.