TIANJIN - For the Chinese, Sunday is the time for the very first haircut in the year of the rabbit.
Sunday is the second day of the second lunar month, known in Chinese as Er Yue Er, "a time for the dragon to raise its head", as a Chinese saying goes.
Barber shops across the country opened early to begin one of their busiest days of the year, as many people have strictly observed the "no haircut" tradition throughout the past month of lunar new year celebrations.
Many Chinese hold the superstitious belief that getting a haircut at a time when the "dragon raises its head" means they will have a vigorous start to the new year. If a person had a haircut during the first month of the lunar year, however, a maternal uncle will die.
As a result, barbershops stay open almost 18 hours a day in the pre-Lunar New Year rush for haircuts that lasts for at least two weeks.
While women like to spruce up for the holiday, even men with short hair like to get a trim up before the new year begins lest their hair grows unbearably long before they are supposed to be at the barber's again.
The "no haircut" legend goes that a poor, parentless barber loved his uncle dearly but could not afford a decent new year's gift for him. So he gave his uncle a nice haircut that made the old man look many years younger. His uncle said it was the best gift he had ever had and wished to get a haircut every year from him.
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 in Chinese, their pronunciations are almost the same.
Cao Baoming, vice chief of China Society for the Study of Folk Literature and Art says the lucky haircut tradition comes from the Chinese's worship of the dragon, as people believe it symbolizes luck.
Wang Laihua, a Tianjin-based specialist on traditional Chinese culture, said the second day of the second lunar month was also a time for married daughters to visit their parents.
"In the past, a married daughter should not visit her parents in the first lunar month. Or even if she did, she must leave before dark," he said. "This was because there was a superstitious belief that 'if a married woman saw the lamp on in her parents' house, her father-in-law would die'".
These days, such superstition is ignored by most women with a laugh.