The city of Qufu, hometown of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, held a grand ceremony to celebrate the 2,568th anniversary of his birth Thursday.
An educator and philosopher, Confucius (551-479 B.C.) founded a school of thought, deeply influential on later generations, known as Confucianism. He was also the first to set up private schools in China that enrolled students from different social classes.
The ceremony started at 9 a.m. when more than 2,500 students and company employees recited classic quotes from "The Analects," a record of Confucius' ideas and sayings, in front of the Confucius Temple in Qufu, eastern China's Shandong Province.
Wearing yellow ribbons, a further 3,500 participants including UNESCO officials, scholars, students and descendants of Confucius from over 20 countries and regions marched to the temple.
Dancers wearing costumes from the Han Dynasty (202 B.C.-220 A.D.) staged a ritual dance at around 9:30 a.m. Representatives presented flower baskets in front of a statue of Confucius, and each participant bowed three times toward the statue.
Annual commemorations of Confucius started in 478 B.C., the year after his death.