Diaries from the Far East – Dragons and Haircuts

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Foto: Franka Gulin

Although last time I said I’d continue talking about North Korea, I’ll save that adventure for the next time. This week we marked the second day of the second month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

I’m sure this probably sounds complicated and somewhat pointless, especially if I tell you that that day revolves around dragons and haircuts.

The second day of the second lunar month is called Dragon Heads-raising Day. In Chinese culture dragons are seen as an important symbol and are also a mythical creature responsible for the clouds and rain. On this day, according to folk tradition, they wake up and raise their heads.

Spring arrives immediately following that day and with it abundant precipitation—thanks to the all-powerful dragon. But now you’re probably wondering what the connection is between dragons and haircuts.

Getting a haircut is one of the most important customs associated with this day. A haircut on the second day of the second lunar month is particularly auspicious, and that good luck will follow you throughout the year.

You must also keep in mind that according to Chinese beliefs you should never cut your hair during the first lunar month because it supposedly brings bad luck. According to the dire prophecy, if you cut your hair during that time your uncle will die.

Foto: Franka Gulin

For this reason, most people get a trim just before the arrival of the Chinese New Year, and then again on the day when the ‘dragon raises its head.’

Although I’ve had the opportunity to see people in hair salons during the first lunar month, going into a nearby salon at midday on Monday was proof that people still hold to this tradition—especially when it comes to small children.

The young trainee at the door explained that he could fit me in for a simple cut in about two hours, because—due to the ‘dragon’ day— he wasn’t sure if I’d even get a turn if I came back a bit later.

I gave up, because for ‘good luck’ I could trim my own bangs. Besides, I remembered that there were several other traditions associated with this day that bring luck and guard against accidents.

Foto: Franka Gulin

In the first place, you can eat different foods that symbolize different parts of the dragon. These are usually noodles, Chinese stuffed pasta, spring pancakes, sticky-rice rolls, and so on—or basically anything the average gourmand would find easy (except maybe on stomach).

Among other things, according to an old tradition, on the second day of the second lunar month, people should not do the laundry. I suppose nobody would find such a thing hard to do.

Franka Gulin has been living life to its fullest in Beijing for four years. Since the summer she has been writing a blog and sharing her experiences from far-off China and the surrounding region. 

*The opinions expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of HRT.