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Preparations Begin for Yellow Emperor Offering Ceremony
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The 2007 Sacrifice Offering Ceremony for the Yellow Emperor will be held in Xinzheng on April 19 (the third day of the third month of the lunar calendar), the emperor's birth anniversary.

Xinzheng, a county-level city in Zhengzhou, is the hometown of the Yellow Emperor, or Huangdi, the common ancestor of the Chinese people.

Twenty thousand people, including leaders of the central and local governments, delegations from China's Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan Province, and Chinese delegations from overseas will attend the ceremony.

The three highlights of the celebration will be the construction of the Surname Culture Square, the building of the Sacred Fire Altar before the Yellow Emperor's sculpture, and a torch relay to be kicked off in his hometown.

There will also be a series of activities to mark the occasion, including the Yellow Emperor Culture Forum, to be held in Xinzheng from April 17-19, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completion of the sculptures of the Yellow Emperor and the Red Emperor in the Yellow River Scenic Area in Zhengzhou. A High-Rank Forum on the Yellow Emperor Culture on April 18 and a large-scale art performance, both in Zhengzhou, as well as other trade, investment and tourism promotion events will also be held.

Common ancestor

The Yellow Emperor was a great tribal leader born 5,000 years ago in Xinzheng.

The famous historian Sima Qian of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 25) states in his Historical Records that there were three strong tribes in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River at the time: the Youxiong Tribe led by the Yellow Emperor, and two others led by Chiyou and the Red Emperor respectively.

The Yellow Emperor made his tribe the strongest by teaching them farming and helping them improve moral integrity.

The Youxiong and the other two tribes finally formed a union. Many other tribes also joined the union, marking the first unification of the Chinese nation. The Yellow and Red emperors are thus regarded by the Chinese people as their common ancestors.

The united nation designated Xinzheng (then called Youxiong) as the capital. In ancient times, locals also called it "City of the Yellow Emperor."

To ensure cohesion among the tribes constituting the nation, the Yellow Emperor gave up the totem of his own tribe, the bear, and adopted a new totem with characteristics of various tribes.  The collaborative animal was a dragon featuring a snake's body, a fish's tail, lion's head, deer's horns, and eagle's claws. Since then, the dragon has been the common totem of the Chinese nation.

The dragon pervades life in China, from the imperial to folk rituals, dragon dances in the north to the dragon boat races in the south. The Chinese people also call themselves the descendants of the dragon.

Another reason that the Chinese call themselves descendants of the Yellow and Red emperors is that most of the Chinese surnames originated from them.

The Yellow Emperor, who the Historical Records say was surnamed Ji, had 25 sons. The sons lived in different places and were given surnames according to the names of their residential areas.

During the reign of the Five Legendary Emperors (2600 BC - 1600 BC), the surnames of the Yellow Emperor's direct descendants numbered 510, according to another historical account. A further 108 surnames were given to the descendants of the Red Emperor.

Such family names have been passed down to the present and been disseminated not only throughout the nation but also to many other countries and regions. No matter where they go, these families never forget they are the descendants of the Yellow Emperor and the Red Emperor.

Recorded history of holding the sacrifice offering ceremony on the third day of the third month of the lunar calendar every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of the Yellow Emperor dates back to the Spring and Autumn period (770 BC - 476 BC).

(China Daily March 20, 2007)

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