The Double-Second Festival
The Double-Second Festival (or the Spring Dragon Festival) is traditionally named the Dragon Head Festival, which is also called “the Day of Legendary Birth of Flowers”, “the Spring Outing Day”, or “the Vegetables-Picking Day”. It came into existence in the Tang Dynasty (618AD --- 907 AD). The poet, Bai Juyi wrote a poem entitled The Second Day of the Second Lunar Month:” The first rain stops, sprout grass and vegetables. In light clothes are young lads, and in lines as they cross the streets.” On this special day, people send gifts to each other, pick vegetable, welcome wealth and go on a spring outing, etc. After the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD --- 1644 AD), the custom of spreading ashes to attract a dragon was called “dragon lifting its head”.
Why is it called “dragon lifting its head”? There is a folktale in northern China.
It is said that once the Jade Emperor ordered the four Sea Dragon Kings not to rain on the earth in three years’ time. At a time, life for the people was intolerable and the people suffered untold misery and hardship. One of the four Dragon Kings --- the jade dragon was sympathetic with the people and secretly dropped a soaking rain on the earth, which was soon discovered by the Jade Emperor, who banished him to the mortal world and put him under a huge mountain. On it was a tablet, which said the jade dragon would not go back to Heaven unless golden beans blossomed.
People went around telling the news and were thinking of ways to save the dragon. One day, an old woman carried a sack of corn for sale on the street. The sack opened and the golden corn for scattered on the ground. It occurred to people that seeds of corn were the gold beans, which would blossom if they were roasted. Therefore, people coordinated their efforts to roast popcorn and place it in the yards on the second day of the second lunar month. The God Venus had dim eyesight with old age. He was under the impression that golden beans blossomed, so he released the dragon.
From then on there was a custom on the earth that on the second day of the second lunar
month, every family would roast popcorn. Some people sang while roasting:”The dragon lifts its head on the second day of the second lunar month. Large barns will be full and small ones will overflow.”
While the Hani ethnic group inhabiting in Mount Ailao on the southern bank of the Red River referred to third day as the Day of Worshipping Dragons, with a moving folktale of two brave young men slaughtering a demon.
The festival is also know as the Day of the Legendary Birth of Flowers, which falls on the 12th or 15th of the second lunar month in some other places. Since spring is round the corner and all flowers will soon be in bloom, the day is set as the birthday of the Flower God, which is believed to be in spring. It later gets an elegant name of the Day of the Legendary Birth of Flowers from men of letters.
A series of activities are held on this day, including appreciating flowers, growing flowers, going to a spring outing, and attaching red straps to branches. Sacrifices are offered to the Flower God at Flower God Temples in many places. Red straps of paper or cloth are tied to the stems of flowers. The weather that day is seen as the divination of a year’s yield of wheat, flowers and fruits.
People of the Zhuang ethnic group name it the Day of Hundred-Flower Fairy. Youngsters will gather around a dam with bombax trees, singing a musical dialogue in antiphonal style, throwing embroidered balls to their loves and exchanging gifts. They will sing songs worshipping the Hundred-Flower Fairy. The embroidered balls they get will be hung on the bombax trees, where the Hundred0Flower Fairy is believed to live in. In this way, the Hundred-Flower Fairy will bless them with pure and sweet love forever.
It is also considered as the birthday of the fruit trees in the south of Yangtze River. Women used to hoe up weeds and loosen the soil around each tree. At noon, a piece of red paper would be pasted on the trunk of each tree, and then people would cover it with straw. A stone was put on the crotch. People would put both hands on the tree, whispering “will there be a good harvest of peaches? Yes! Will peaches be big? Yes! Will peach be moth-eaten? No! Will peaches drop? No!” Then they would lift a bamboo knife and cut the middle part of the trunk with moderate strength. The process was repeated for each fruit tree and could be carried out with the joint effort of two people, with on asking the questions, representing the host, and the other answering the questions, standing for the tree. It was originally a form of the ancient witchcraft, and is now only a good wish of the fruit growers. According to the experts, to cut the tree with moderate strength has its scientific foundation. If the growing of the trees is too fast, fruits tend to drop. The cutting has the function of “retaining nutrition”, to help to bear fruits, which shows that some knowledge from the populace is precious.