The Dragon Raising it’s Head Festival

Nicholas Quirke was always game for a celebration and the Longtaitou Festival, held on the second day of the second month of the Chinese calendar, 14 March 2021 this year, was an opportunity for him to revisit a parking highlight. The festival, meaning “Dragon raising its head” is observed because because the dragon was regarded as the deity in charge of rain, an important factor in ancient agriculture. It is celebrated in various ways, most of which are still identical to those practiced in the ancient times, including eating Chinese pancakes and dragon beard noodles. It is an auspicious day for people to get a haircut, after month-long time without cutting hair in January for Lunar New Year. Longtaitou (long is dragon in mandarin) is also the first day of the Taihao temple fair , a celebration of the deities Fuxi and Nüwa that lasts until the third day of the third month of the lunar calendar. He noted with some amusement that there were ancient traditions that are no longer part of the modern celebrations, including: women should not practice sewing because needles could puncture the eyes of dragon and eating food with the word ” dragon” to bring good luck and good weather all year round. Though it isn’t was still practised that they eat super fine dragon hair noodles was on the agenda as was visiting ‘Longtan Park’, conveniently situated on Longtan Lu. It was also Mother’s Day back home in the UK and he sent messages to family. He cycled to the park, stopping first a Caishikou and taking in a memorial he had only recently spotted that marked the ancient Liao Andong Gate of the Youzhou City in the Tang Dynasty. He enjoyed his tour round the park in which all the buildings had dragon symbols adorning them. The day though marked a high for pollution and though the trees were beginning to blossom, the grey sky did nothing to accentuate the burgeoning spring. Once he had toured the park he set off north to meet Peng a Tai Koo li where he had located a restaurant that served ‘Dragon hair Noodles’ he cycled there and passed Peng on his way there from a coffee with a friend. Unfortunately the restaurant did not have the noodles on their menu that day but he was happy to eat there as it was like a tiny little home kitchen with only one table that the diners sat around. There was a 30. Minute wait though and they wandered the area, buying an obscenely expensive Sourdough loaf at the amusingly titled ‘ There Will Be Bread’. It was worth the wait as the food was delicious. The mall they ate at was hosting an Eco artists exhibition and some of the exhibits were reminiscent of Prosperous Costume that Peta had designed for their production of ‘The Tempest’. A relaxing tea in the attractive surroundings of Qing preceded their journey home and the evening film which was a made for television drama about a man who kept his daughter prisoner in the basement for 20 years, fathering 3 children with her. It was another grim tale to go to sleep on.

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