Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
Filter by Categories
#iDiscoverChina
A taste of China
A taste of China
Adventures
Ancient Places
City Guides
Cultural Heritage
Food & Drink
Guides
Itineraries
Modern China
Natural Attractions
Street Food
Tradition
Trip Ideas
Video
What to eat

Cultural Heritage / Trip Ideas

Longtaitou: a festival about dragons

By Linting Hou

February 27

The Longtaitou Festival or Dragon Head Raising Festival is a product of China’s ancient farming culture, which is celebrated to pray for a good harvest.

The Longtaitou Festival or Dragon Head Raising Festival is a product of China’s ancient farming culture, which is celebrated to pray for a good harvest.

Ancient Chinese regarded Chinese dragon, or Long, as a sacred creature, which controls the rain. For the people living in an agrarian society, rain was a vital resource directly related to their livelihood. Therefore, before spring arrived, farmers usually held rituals to ask for blessings from Long and pray for a good harvest. During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the day when farmers held these rituals was designated as the Longtaitou festival.

Chinese dragon – Long [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Liu Qinli]
The Longtaitou Festival, also known as the Eryueer Festival and the Blue Dragon Festival, is celebrated on the second day of the second Chinese lunar month when insects and plants have “awakened” from their winter sleep. It is a traditional folk festival originated in ancient times when Emperor Fu Xi led Chinese races. Legend has it that one year a drought struck the land and people were starving to death. A red Long, having compassion for people, gave them some rain without permission. To punish the red Long, the Jade Emperor (the supreme deity of Taoism) imprisoned it in a mountain and said he would never release it unless golden beans bloomed. However, clever people found that soybeans were golden and more importantly, soy beans could bloom when they were roasted. The red Long was released finally on the second day of the second Chinese lunar month. Therefore, that day became the time when people celebrate the release of the Long and ask for the Long’s blessing. Even today, people still roast beans during the festival.

Students sharing roasted soy beans at the Longtaitou Festival [Image Credit: VCG]
In addition to roasted beans, dumplings, noodles, spring pancakes and wontons are also popular foods on that day. But their names have changed. Dumplings are nicely called Long’s ears, noodles are called Long’s beard, pancakes are Long’s scales and wontons are Long’s teeth. It’s said that eating these foods at the Longtaitou Festival can bring good luck.

Women preparing Long’s ears (dumplings) during the festival [Image Credit: VCG]
There are some traditional customs still observed today. In northern China, people, especially children, usually get haircut on that day, because they believe it can bring success in the future.

A boy getting haircut [Image Credit: VCG]
In the rural area, there is an ancient folk custom called Daliangdun (打粮囤), which is performed by using plant ashes to draw circles on the ground and putting grains at the center. The circles symbolize grain bins.

Daliangdun [Image Credit: VCG]
In ancient times, cattle are very important because some farming facilities are dragged by them. Strong cattle mean efficient farm work. At the Longtaitou Festival, some villages in Shandong Province hold cattle races to mark the resumption of farm work.

  • Share this
  • Send this

Follow Discover China

Recommended

Related Articles