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Confucius' Birthday-18th October

Confucius influenced Chinese thought for over 2500 years and the elaborate festival to celebrate his life is best experienced in his charming home town, at the Confucius Temple in Qufu. Some of the ancient rituals of Confucianism are practiced on this day and the grounds of the massive temple are taken over by a fair.

Deep respect for Confucius has turned his philosophy into something of a religion and this festival should offer a fascinating ticket into the complexities of the Chinese pysche. It's also a good opportunity to see one of China's great classical buildings.

Although Confucius spent his life in poverty and relative obsurity, students disseminated his teachings, which were well suited to the feudal times and instantly popular after his death. Descendants of his clan, the Kongs, benefitted superbly from Confucius until the Communists came along with their revolutionary ideas.

The recent drive for tourist dollars has seen greater tolerance of this ancient philosophy - along with many a tourist stall! Good food can be sampled at night street stalls, but be aware of the high chilli content and always ask the price of each and every dish.

Somewhat "Confucingly" to Westerners, the birthday of this sage is celebrated on two separate days. September 28, his birthday in the Western solar calendar, is also known as National Teacher's Day in the Republic of China, in memory of the importance that Confucius placed on learning and scholarship, and his radical populist doctrine that knowledge was the right of everyone, not just the privilege of the aristocracy. His birthday is also marked in the Chinese lunar calendar, however, and falls on the 27th day of the eighth lunar month (between the end of September and the beginning of November).

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