Spring Dragon Festival
Date: the second day of the second lunar month
The folklore goes that every second day of the second lunar month is the time when the dragon in charge of the rain lifts its head. From that day on rainfall will increase gradually, so it is called the "Spring Dragon Festival" or "Dragon Head Festival." There is a saying widely spread in the north of China that "The dragon lifts its head on the second day of the second lunar moth and large barns will be full and small ones will overflow."
On every occasion of the Spring Dragon Festival, families in most of the areas in northern China will go to wells or rivers to fetch water with their lanterns on in the morning. Then they will come back home and turn on the light, burn joss sticks and offer up sacrifices. This ceremony was called "attracting the dragon in the field" in the old times. On this festival, every family should eat noodles, which means "lifting the dragon's head"; fry cakes, which means "eating the dragon's gallbladder" (the Chinese people believe that it is the gallbladder that decide one's courage); and pop corn so that "golden beans can blossom; dragon god can return to heaven and distribute the rain to the earth and crops can grow well."
A story about the origin of the Spring Dragon Festival prevails among people. In the Tang Dynasty, Wu Zetian the Queen came to power and became the empress, which irritated Yuhuang Dadi in the heaven. He ordered the four dragon gods who are in charge of the rain not to rain a single drop in three years. However, the dragon god who is in charge of the heaven river couldn't bear to see people on earth being driven to death, so he broke Yuhuang Dadi's rule and secretly rained once. Yuhuang Dadi became so angry that he kept the dragon god under the mountain as a kind to torture, and a stele on the mountain read as follows:
The dragon king violated the heavenly rules by dropping rain
And is subject to thousands of years of punishment on earth
If ever he wishes to go back to the heavenly palace
It's only when golden beans give birth to flowers.
To save the kind-hearted dragon god, people went everywhere to find the golden beans. On the second day of the second lunar month the next year, people found the secret of golden beans when they were tedding the seeds of corn: since the corn is just like golden beans, isn't that the golden beans blossom when the corn is popped? So every family began to pop the corn and set up the altar to offer the blossomed "golden beans" as sacrifices. The golden beans have blossomed, so please set me free." Yuhuang Dadi had no choice but to call the dragon gold back to heaven and give back his job. From then on it became a habit that people pop corn on the second day of the second lunar month. Actually, it is just the characteristic of North China Monsoon that the rainfalls begin to grow after the second day of the second lunar month. However, seen from another perspective, the festival also shows people's wishes for fine weather and a better harvest.