Ancient China Rituals

Like many ancient societies, ancient China had numerous rituals that were important to society. Rituals ranged from religious to family to political to specific gods in ancient China.

Ancient China rituals were a time for celebration whether it was for a funeral or marriage or sacrifice to the gods. Here are a few of the ancient China rituals that were important to all members of ancient China society.
Ancestor Veneration

The Worship of Earth

The worship of earth ritual was for the summer solstice and dedicated to Mother Earth. At first the worship of earth was associated with human sacrifice until the Han Dynasty.

The ritual was especially important in the northern portion of the country. The ritual was instrumental in worshipping several facets of the earth like mountains, rivers, soil and the millet god.

The Worship of Heavenly Bodies

The worship of heavenly bodies’ ritual was to pay tribute to the winter solstice, the emperor and the universe.

The ritual was important for the people in the southern portion of ancient China. The worship of heavenly bodies was to honor the sun, moon, stars, and planets as well as the earth as a whole.

The ritual was viewed as a political event and celebrated the emperor. The emperor was considered to as one of the creators of the universe.
Stone Tortoise

Ancestor Worship

In ancient China the ancestor worship was important for members of society. The ritual was seen as honoring dead family members.

The ancient Chinese believed that dead people still existed. They believed the family members took awareness of the world and world affairs.

In ancient China the dead ancestor of a family could impact the fortunes of the other living family members.

Five Sacrifice Offerings

The Five Sacrifice Offerings was dedicated to the window, the well, middle room, door, and the kitchen of a house.

The ritual was believed to give ancient Chinese good luck. The ritual took place in the twelfth Chinese lunar month of each year.
The Fengxian cave

The Birth Ritual

The ancient China Birth ritual began before the birth of a child. Ancient Chinese would pray for a young woman to give birth to a child.

After a child was born there were four specific rituals observed by the ancient Chinese. The four rituals took place three days after birth, one month after birth, one hundred days after birth and one year after birth.

The child would receive numerous gifts meant to further good health that would lead to a prosperous life.

The Coming of Age Ritual

The Coming of Age ritual was also known as the capping rite. The ritual was to advance a boy to a man. When a boy reached puberty they were given a hat that was similar to a hat a man wore.

Other activities that took place during this ritual were pulling a tooth, wearing trousers, making their hair into a club like form, and dyeing teeth.

Funeral Ritual

The Funeral ritual in ancient China was important to all ancient Chinese. When a person died in ancient China family friends and relatives would prepare the body.

First they would shave the person’s head. The body be washed and the person’s nails cut. The body was put in a sitting position to allow the soul to exit.

The people that prepared the body then called for the soul to be released and returned.

Important facts about ancient China rituals

  • Ancient China rituals were religious, political, family oriented and to specific gods.
  • The Worship of Earth ritual was performed in the northern portion of the country during the summer solstice.
  • The Worship of Heavenly Bodies was important in the southern region of the country during winter solstice.
  • Ancient Chinese worshipped their ancestors to help solve problems.
  • The Five Sacrifice Offerings ritual included giving homage to the windows, the water well, the middle room, door, and the kitchen of a house.
  • The Birth ritual had four stages of celebration throughout the first year of birth.
  • The Coming of Age ritual was for young boys entering man hood.
  • During the Funeral Ritual the body was washed and prepared to have its soul exit the body.


1. Which ritual was performed in the northern portion of the country during summer solstice?

Worship of the Earth

2. Which ancient China ritual in the southern region of the country was important during winter solstice?

Worship of Heavenly Bodies

3. How many celebrations took place during the Birth ritual?


4. Who prepared the body for the soul to exit during the Funeral ritual?

Family and friends