The breast cancer flower ceremony is a tradition that has become a major part of dragon boat festivals. In 1997, a breast cancer survivor team in Vancouver carried pink carnations with them as a sign of hope for a fellow teammate who had recurrence of the disease. Following their last race, the team spontaneously threw their carnations into the water, and the flower ceremony was born.
The breast cancer flower ceremony is a must see event at dragon boat festivals. While the color and type of flower may vary, the reason for holding the event never changes. The flower ceremony honors those who have passed away, gives hope to those who are battling, and celebrates those who have survived.
At festivals, when the music starts, paddlers raise their pink flowers above their heads and join hands with the paddlers in the next boat. With the flowers raised, the paddlers and audience alike reflect on the lives that have been touched by breast cancer. When the music stops, the paddlers and the audience toss their flowers into the water.