Here in China it has long been thought that the luckiest day of the year to get your hair cut is longtaitou 龙抬头 (meaning ‘Dragon raises its head’ ) also known as ‘er yue er‘ 二月二. This festival is always held on the 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month,
and this year that day fell on 2nd March. The corollary of this belief is that it is extremely unlucky to have your hair cut between the time of Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and this date, and if you go for a quick short back and sides, your maternal uncle will die.
This unusual belief stems from an old tale that there was once a young barber who could not afford to buy his much loved maternal uncle a gift for Chinese New Year so instead he gave him a haircut. The uncle was delighted with this and had his nephew cut his hair on the same date each year. When the uncle finally died, the nephew was so sad he could not stop thinking about him – 思舅 si jiu – which means ‘thinking of uncle’, but those same words sound exactly the same as 死舅 si jiu – which means ‘death of uncle’, and so the superstition was born.
On er yue er, hairdressers and barber shops stay open for up to 18 hours and long queues form as people want a trim that will bring them luck for the rest of the year.
It is particularly auspicious for a baby or toddler to have its very first haircut on this day, so you see hoards of mums and dads with squalling little ones in their arms trying to keep them still whilst their hair is shorn, after which they are rewarded with sweets.