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Chinese celebrate Chairman Mao's 114th birth anniversary
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Chinese from around the country descended on a small village in central Hunan Province on Wednesday to celebrate the 114th anniversary of the birth of the country's late revolutionary founder Mao Zedong.

The People's Republic of China's first leader Mao was born on December 26, 1893, in Shaoshan Village, some 104 kilometers from Changsha, the provincial capital. His former residence was opened to tourists in 1950 and an increasing number have since made a pilgrimage to this mountain village.

"We organized a series of activities, including music and firework performances and an exhibition to fete the tourists who come to pay tribute to the great leader," said Zhong Lixin, head of publicity for Shaoshan City, where the village is located.

This morning, Shaoshan villager made "longevity noodles" to commemorate the helmsman's birthday. Chinese tradition stipulated that people would live a long life if they ate noodles on birthday.

Shaoshan restaurants started serving longevity noodles to tourists in 2003 and eating them on this day had become a village folk custom.

Other activities included musical performances at Chairman Mao Plaza in the village center and an exhibition of calligraphy works copying his penmanship.

"In the past two months, we received more than 3,200 pieces of handwriting works from more than 1,000 contributors from about 30 provinces or municipalities," Zhong said.

Shaoshan had become one of the country's major "red tourism attractions", a place where many Chinese revolutionists were born, lived or fought.

Local villagers have earned better incomes by receiving tourists curious about the environment that the great leader came from or in wanting to experience the revolutionary times.

"Shaoshan is expected to host 3.2 million tourists this year," Zhong said. "The three days of December 25, 26 and 27 always see the largest number of tourists who come to commemorate the leader."

Mao died in 1976, aged 82.

(Xinhua News Agency December 26, 2007)

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