The Carnation Ceremony: A story in every petal.
The Carnation Ceremony is a breast cancer dragon boat race tradition that originated in 1996 in Vancouver when a paddler picked fuchsia colored roses from her garden to give to other paddlers to wear and toss into the water after a race as a way to honor a member who could not participate. By 1998, pink carnations and the tossing ceremony became rooted in dragon boat culture.
On 26th 2022 in Vancouver BC our team members along with three other teams made up a composite boat called waves of hope, below is the first carnation ceremony post covid for the Concord Dragon Boat Festival.
As part of the ceremony, pink flowers are given out to survivors on a stage or in dragon boats in the breast cancer division of a race. The boats pull up and are link together .
The audience is included with accepting flowers, especially those who are family, friends, and supporters or caretakers. The ceremony is most often accompanied by a personal talk which focuses the audience on the topic of cancer and survival. Music provides another means of reflection and those holding flowers will raise them high and sway with the music before tossing them into the water.
The expressions on the faces told each personal story as a cancer victim, survivor, or a friend and family of those with breast cancer.
Research on the sport of dragon boating for breast cancer survivors indicates there are both physical and psychosocial positive effects on paddlers. The camaraderie and support for a physical exercise has been healthy and thriving for the survivors as part of post-operative rehabilitation.
Dragon boating has prompted more studies to be conducted on the psychosocial effects for emotional support and comradery. It is a common way for exercising, participating in a sport, and supporting one another. It is the importance of celebrating lives of survivors and a hope to those living with the disease.
Together we are stronger!