Confucianism, the Literati, and Chinese Imperial Traditions

Holidays and Regular Observances

What were some of the other formerly regular festivals once associated with CIT?

Many of the religiously significant times acknowledged with rituals in sacred sites affiliated with CIT overlap with popular Daoist and CCT practices. The Literati, who functioned as ritual specialists in service of the imperial house, generally looked down on Daoist and CCT devotionalism and often made fun of their beliefs. But as servants of the emperor, they could hardly afford to snub the very deities to whom the general populace prayed for success in mundane but important matters such as timely rain and abundant harvest. When the emperor’s far-flung political administrators entered into their roles as religious ritualists, they often found themselves crossing an imaginary line from the elite to the everyday life of the locals. Celebrating days associated with deities of purely local or regional origin and importance remained the task of Daoists and practitioners of CCT. But when they paid homage to local or regional deities whom the emperor had elevated to the CIT pantheon, the Literati were providing implicit legitimation for popular beliefs and practices. In addition to the birthday of Confucius on the twenty-seventh day of the eighth lunar month, CIT also celebrated new and full moon occasions, some of which coincided with feasts like that of Lao Zi (second month, day fifteen) and the Hungry Ghosts (seventh month, day fifteen).


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