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Confucius memorial ceremony

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: November 30, 2018 L M S


A Confucius memorial ceremony is a ritual held at Confucius temples to worship and commemorate the sage and great educator, Confucius. It became an important activity nationwide in Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), and continued thereafter. The size of the memorial ceremony has gradually grown and reached a peak in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, during which it was known as the "National Ceremony".


The southern branch of Confucius's descendants holds a memorial ceremony every year on Sept 28, the sage’s birthday, at their family temples. On Sept 28, 2004, the southern branch resumed their Confucius memorial ceremony after it had stopped for 56 years. It was the first Confucius memorial ceremony since the establishment of People’s Republic of China on his 2,555th birthday. By 2018, Quzhou in Zhejiang province had held 15 grand memorial ceremonies. The attendees came from all walks of life and also included foreign guests from Confucius Institutes all over the world. A variety of activities including the Confucius Cultural Festival, Confucianism forums, musical parties, school plays, and recitals were held alongside the ceremony.


Quzhou Confucius Temple insists on holding a small memorial ceremony every year, a middle-sized ceremony every two years, and a grand ceremony every five years. There are two types of ceremony – a public memorial ceremony attended by representatives from all walks of life and an academic memorial ceremony attended by middle school teachers and students. The attendees are required to worship this great cultural ancestor in modern ways and as ordinary citizens. The ceremony features simplified procedures, modern dress, simplified sacrificial offerings, contemporary art forms instead of classical music and dance, and the participation of many citizens. 

In May 2011, the memorial ceremony of the southern branch of Confucius's descendants was listed in the third national non-material cultural heritage list. Through its Confucius memorial ceremonies, Quzhou, known as the holy land of the southern branch of Confucius's descendants, has received a series of social responses and cultural effects, and Quzhou Confucius Temple has become a tourist attraction in southeast China.