Today is the 34nd Chinese Teacher's Day – a festival celebrating the2,300-year tradition of respecting teachers and education in China.
It's similar to the birthday of Confucius or the birthday of private schooltutor in ancient China.
The history of Teacher's Day traces back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD220). According to record, during the Han (202 BC–AD 220) and Jin (1115-1234)dynasties, on August 27 each year, the birthday of Confucius, the emperor wouldgo to Confucius' temple and pay tribute to the ancient philosopher followed bycourt officials, and would also invite royal teachers to the imperial court fora banquet. Local officials followed the court, and on this day, teachers aroundthe nation enjoyed a day's vacation and were given dried meat as gifts.
The capital, all states and counties would also stage sacrificialceremonies to worship Confucius, with local chiefs or the emperor leadingrituals. Excellent-performed teachers would be chosen from academies andlearning institutions nationwide, reporting to the royal court and given 500liang (两) silver coins as awards.
Until the Qing Dynasty, the sacrificial ceremony, on August 27, was of alarger scale. The teachers' salaries in schools and academies around the nationwere raised, and well-performing teachers would be conferred official titles orpromoted to higher positions.
How were gifts presented to teachers in ancient China?
Normally, an ancient teacher's income included salary, accommodation andfestival gifts. There was no fixed tuition fee, generally the parents paidteachers according to their household income. Both money and basic foodstuffcould be paid in exchange for tuition.
In private schools, teachers always received money or gifts from the hostfamily at certain festivals or at the beginning and end of each semester.
The festivals in which teachers received gifts varied from region toregion, while the most valued ones were the Duanwu, Mid-autumn and Chinese NewYear festivals, as well as Confucius' birthday and the private tutor'sbirthday.
Among all the gift-giving festivals, the first meeting gift was a must.
When students met their private tutors for the first time, they had to kneeldown to Confucius' spirit tablet and then to their private tutor, beforepresenting a "gift".