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Barbers meet the rush for good luck

[ 2010-03-18 12:36]     字号 [] [] []  
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Just a month after the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations began, another tradition comes along: to have a haircut on the second day of the second month, or Er Yue Er, in order to bring good luck for the entire year.

As a result of this widespread belief, China's barbershops saw one of their busiest days of the year on Wednesday, when Er Yue Er, also known as Longtaitou (dragon raises head) Day, fell on the lunar calendar this year.

Many Chinese subscribe to the superstition that getting a haircut when the "dragon raises its head" means they will have a vigorous start to the new year. If a person has a haircut during the first month of the lunar year, however, it is assumed his maternal uncle will die.

Last month, finding themselves in high demand, barbershops stayed open almost 18 hours a day in the pre-Lunar New Year rush for haircuts that lasted for at least two weeks.

While women like to spruce up for the holiday, even men with short hair like to get a trim before the new year begins, lest their hair grow too long before their next haircut, scheduled for the second day of the second lunar month.

A Chinese legend holds that a poor barber loved his uncle dearly, but could not afford a decent new year's gift for him. So he gave him a nice haircut that made the old man look much younger than his years. His uncle said it was the best gift he had ever received and wished to have his hair cut by his nephew every year from then on.

After his uncle died, the barber missed him very much and cried every new year. Over the years, his "thinking of his uncle" (si jiu) was interpreted as "death of uncle", because their pronunciations are almost the same in Chinese.

According to Cao Baoming, vice-president of the China Society for the Study of Folk Literature and Art, the lucky haircut tradition comes from the Chinese worship of the dragon, which is believed to symbolize luck.

"The lucky tradition, which goes back thousands of years, reflects people's wish to have a happy life," he said.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Barbers meet the rush for good luck

About the broadcaster:

Barbers meet the rush for good luck

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is fluent in Korean and has a 2-year-old son.