Major Festivals of Confucianism


Confucianism is an ancient Chinese philosophy and belief system that has had a profound influence on Chinese culture and society. It emphasizes the importance of moral values, social harmony, and respect for tradition. Like many other religions and philosophies, Confucianism has its own set of festivals and celebrations that are observed by its followers. In this article, we will explore the major festivals of Confucianism and delve into the significance and customs associated with each one.

1. Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is one of the most important festivals in Confucianism. It marks the beginning of the lunar calendar year and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy by millions of people in China and other East Asian countries. The festival usually falls between late January and mid-February, depending on the lunar calendar.

During the Lunar New Year, families gather for reunion dinners, exchange gifts, and pay respects to ancestors. Traditional rituals are performed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. These include hanging up red lanterns and couplets, setting off firecrackers, and performing lion and dragon dances. People also visit temples to pray for blessings and seek guidance for the coming year.

2. Chongyang Festival

The Chongyang Festival, also known as Double Ninth Festival, is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, which usually falls in October. This festival holds great significance in Confucianism as it is a day to honor the elderly and promote filial piety.

On this day, people often climb mountains to enjoy the autumn scenery and show respect to their ancestors. It is believed that by ascending to higher altitudes, one can get closer to the spirit world and gain wisdom and longevity. In addition to mountain climbing, people also engage in activities such as flying kites, drinking chrysanthemum wine, and wearing cornel flowers to ward off evil spirits.

3. Confucius’ Birthday

Confucius’ Birthday, also known as Teacher’s Day, is celebrated on the 27th day of the eighth lunar month, which usually falls in September. This festival is dedicated to honoring the birth and teachings of Confucius, the founder of Confucianism.

During this festival, ceremonies are held at Confucius temples where people pay respects to Confucius and offer sacrifices. These ceremonies often include traditional music, dances, and recitations of Confucian texts. Students, scholars, and followers of Confucianism also take this opportunity to reflect on Confucius’ teachings and strive to become better individuals.

4. Qingming Festival

The Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, is an important festival in Confucianism as it is a time to honor ancestors and pay respects to the deceased. It usually takes place on April 4th or 5th of the Gregorian calendar.

During this festival, families visit the graves of their ancestors to clean the tombstones, offer food and drinks, and burn incense as a sign of respect. It is also common to fly kites during this time, as it is believed to bring good luck and drive away evil spirits. The Qingming Festival is not only a time for remembrance but also a time for families to come together and bond.

5. Duanwu Festival

The Duanwu Festival, also known as Dragon Boat Festival, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, which usually falls in June. This festival has both historical and cultural significance in Confucianism.

One of the most iconic customs of the Duanwu Festival is the dragon boat races, where teams paddle in long, narrow boats to the beat of drums. These races are not only thrilling to watch but also serve as a way to honor Qu Yuan, a famous poet and statesman of ancient China. People also eat sticky rice dumplings called zongzi, which are wrapped in bamboo leaves and filled with various ingredients.

6. Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Moon Festival, is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which usually falls in September or October. This festival is a time for families to come together and appreciate the beauty of the full moon.

One of the most significant customs of the Mid-Autumn Festival is the sharing and eating of mooncakes, a traditional pastry filled with sweet or savory ingredients. Families gather for a feast, light lanterns, and enjoy performances such as lion dances and Chinese opera. It is also a time for expressing gratitude and praying for good fortune and happiness.

7. Confucian Ancestral Worship

Confucian Ancestral Worship is not a specific festival but a practice deeply rooted in Confucianism. It is a way for individuals to honor and remember their ancestors, as well as reinforce family bonds and moral values.

During Confucian Ancestral Worship, families set up ancestral altars in their homes and offer food, incense, and other offerings to their ancestors. They also engage in rituals such as bowing and reciting prayers to show respect and express gratitude. This practice serves as a reminder of the importance of filial piety and maintaining strong family ties.

8. Confucian Scholar Ceremonies

Confucian Scholar Ceremonies are held to commemorate the achievements and contributions of Confucian scholars throughout history. These ceremonies are often organized by Confucian temples, educational institutions, and cultural organizations.

During these ceremonies, Confucian scholars dress in traditional robes and participate in various rituals and performances. These may include reciting Confucian texts, engaging in scholarly debates, and presenting research papers on Confucian philosophy. These ceremonies serve as a way to preserve and promote Confucianism as a scholarly tradition and cultural heritage.

9. Confucian Wedding Ceremonies

Confucian Wedding Ceremonies are rooted in Confucian teachings and customs that emphasize the importance of marriage and family. These ceremonies are often held in traditional Confucian temples or ancestral halls, and they follow a set of rituals and customs prescribed by Confucian traditions.

During a Confucian Wedding Ceremony, the bride and groom pay respects to their ancestors, exchange vows and gifts, and bow to each other as a sign of respect. The ceremony is often officiated by a scholar or elder who guides the couple through the rituals. Confucian Wedding Ceremonies aim to strengthen the bond between the couple and promote the values of loyalty, respect, and harmony within the family.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Are the festivals of Confucianism only celebrated in China?

No, the festivals of Confucianism are not limited to China. They are also celebrated in other East Asian countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, where Confucianism has had a significant influence on culture and society.

2. Do all followers of Confucianism observe these festivals?

While the festivals of Confucianism hold cultural and historical significance, not all followers of Confucianism observe them. Some may choose to prioritize other religious or cultural celebrations, while others may focus more on the philosophical teachings of Confucianism rather than the rituals and customs associated with festivals.

3. Are there any specific dietary restrictions during Confucian festivals?

Confucian festivals do not impose specific dietary restrictions. However, some festivals, such as the Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival, are associated with special foods and delicacies. For example, mooncakes are traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival, while dumplings are popular during the Lunar New Year.

4. Can people of other religions or beliefs participate in Confucian festivals?

Confucian festivals are often celebrated as part of the cultural heritage of East Asian countries, and people of different religions or beliefs are generally welcome to participate. These festivals provide an opportunity for cultural exchange and appreciation, regardless of one’s religious affiliation.

5. Are there any specific dress codes for attending Confucian festivals?

While there are no strict dress codes for attending Confucian festivals, it is common for people to dress in traditional attire or formal clothing as a sign of respect. This may include wearing qipao, cheongsam, or other traditional garments depending on the specific festival and cultural practices in the region.

6. How can I learn more about Confucianism and its festivals?

To learn more about Confucianism and its festivals, you can explore books, academic journals, and online resources dedicated to the study of Confucian philosophy and traditions. Visiting Confucian temples, attending cultural events, and engaging in conversations with scholars or followers of Confucianism can also provide valuable insights and knowledge.


Confucianism, with its emphasis on moral values and social harmony, has given rise to a rich tapestry of festivals and celebrations. From the joyous Lunar New Year to the solemn rituals of ancestral worship, these festivals provide a glimpse into the cultural and spiritual world of Confucianism. By honoring traditions, paying respects to ancestors, and promoting filial piety, these festivals continue to play a vital role in connecting individuals to their cultural heritage and fostering a sense of community and harmony.

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