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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in China Series at ChineseClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Chinese holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 14. Dragon Head Raising Day. In Chinese, it’s called 中和节 (zhōnghé jié).
The Dragon Head Raising Day is the second day of the second month in the lunar calendar. It is the first major festival after the first month of the lunar new year.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What is the special food you should eat on Dragon Head Raising Day?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Dragon Head Raising Day marks the changing of a cold winter to a warm spring. It is one of many occasions in which the Chinese celebrate dragons, or 龙 (lóng). Dragon Head Raising Day got its name because as spring approaches on this day, people need to prepare for a new year of farming. On the second day of the second lunar month, people in ancient times would “lead the dragon back,” which meant inviting the dragon back to the warm world and praying for a good harvest.
As a sign of the changing season, emperors or 皇帝 (huángdì) of ancient times would hold a farming ceremony on this day to pray for a new year of favorable weather or 风调雨顺 (fēngtiáoyǔshùn) and good harvest. Families and friends would get together to drink Zhonghe Wine and worship the God of Hook Mountain, who was regarded as the god in charge of tree growth. Though the celebration of Dragon Head Raising Day in modern-day cities is no longer directly tied to agriculture, the tradition of drinking Zhonghe Wine is still upheld in many areas.
There is a folk rhyme that goes 二月二,龙抬头(èr yuè èr , lóng táitóu) meaning “(lunar) February second, dragon raising head.” It refers to the custom of celebrating the Dragon King, who is in charge of the clouds and rain in heaven, every second day of the second lunar month. After the second of February, the rainfall, or 降雨 (jiàngyǔ) gradually increases. Many people get a haircut on this day, because people hope that a new haircut will foster positive changes for the new year.
Interestingly, most food customs on this day relate to the "dragon". Eating dumplings is referred to as “eating dragon ears,” or 吃龙耳 (chī Lóng ěr), and eating noodles is called “eating dragon beard,” or 吃龙须面 (chī Lóng Xū miàn).
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is the special food you should eat on Dragon Head Raising Day?
The answer is sun cakes or 太阳糕 (tàiyáng gāo), made of glutinous rice with a stuffing of jujube paste. In the past, Beijingers used these as a way to worship the sun, which is how these cakes got their name. Gradually, sun cakes became a popular snack. Dumplings, spring pancakes and noodles are also popular foods on Dragon Head Raising Day.
What did you think of this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Are there any festivals related to dragons in your country?
Please leave a comment telling us at ChineseClass101.com, and I'll see you in our next lesson. Bye!