It is said that the dragon is awoken, raising his head on this day and is referred to in a Chinese proverb, Èr yuè èr, lóng táitóu [二月二, 龙抬头].
Dragons, which are of course prominent in Chinese culture, are believed to dominate natural forces such as wind and rain. Thus it is perhaps only fitting that their waking should also mark the beginning of Spring.
Their arousal is said to bring forth life, prompting grass to grow, trees to blossom and flowers to bloom.
In ancient China, people would worship the dragon god beside a river or a lake, praying for the precious spring rain to nurture their crops.
Like many Chinese festivals , food plays an important part, and people will often gather to eat foods sometimes named after the mythical beast including “dragon’s ears” or dumplings, “dragon’s scales” or spring pancakes, “dragon’s son”, rice, and wontons called “dragon’s eyes.”
Of course there is no actual dragon meat in any of these delicacies, and in fact most will have forgotten such references, though the Longan fruit [Lóng Yǎn, 龍眼, lit. "Dragon Eye"] still retains a connection to the dragon.
There were once ancient traditions connected with Longtaitou Festival, but now they are no longer observed. For example women were once discouraged from sewing during the festival for fear the needles might puncture the eyes of the dragon.
Perhaps less superstitious was the practice of spreading plant ashes around the house, and then inside the house, and finally around an earthen jug, symbolizing inviting the dragon to provide enough rain for good harvests.
Today the Longtaitou Festival is celebrated with the eating of Chinese pancakes (Chūnbǐng, 春饼) and noodles. Perfume bags filled with the powder of ground fragrant herbs may also be carried by women and children for good fortune, though they are no longer used as insect repellent as they were in ancient times.
While certain traditions have died, what has survived is people’s connection to the importance of the seasons and particularly Spring which marks the beginning of the year for both gardeners and farmers.