Chinese Teacher’s Day and Confucius Quotes

teacher's day in china

What? There’s no day-off on Chinese Teacher’s Day? So how to celebrate?

Chinese Teacher’s Day in China and Taiwan

teacher's day in china

Teacher’s day on Google display.

No matter your country is, there may be a national teacher’s day. The dates of teacher’s day depending on different countries. Many countries have their teacher’s day based on the birthday of national iconic education figures. Therefore, unlike many international holidays, teacher’s days around the world have different dates from country to country.

The teacher’s day was just celebrated in Taiwan last week on September 28th, 2017. And in China, teacher’s day is currently on September 10th. There’s a consideration for China government to change the date of teacher’s day to September 28th, but so far stays September 10th.

In commemorate of Confucius, the iconic educator in Chinese history, the birthday of him 9/28 is the teacher’s day in Taiwan. As for the 9/10 teacher’s day in China, there are several reasons for the date. The main reason is that September 10th is roughly the beginning of the new semester. The teacher’s day celebration can cultivate a more friendly and considerate school environment between students and teachers. Some believe that the number nine and ten in Chinese (九十, Jiǔ shí) is pronounced similar to “teacher”(教师, Jiàoshī) is also one of the reasons.

Although in different dates, teacher’s days share a common purpose for students to give thanks to their teachers. Thanks for teachers’ hard work teaching and patience, students can not only educated properly but also seek for the important mentor in their life.  So following we’re going to talk about the origin of Chinese Teacher’s day, how do Chinese people normally celebrate, and also introducing some quotes from Confucius.

The Origin of Chinese Teacher’s Day – Birthday of Confucius

teacher's day in china

Confucius, known as “the great sage and the exemplary teacher.”


As mentioned, teacher’s day would be set based on the birthday of the great educator in the country. Undoubtedly, Confucius (孔子, Kǒngzǐ, or “Master Kong”) is one of the most influential figures in Chinese history. Confucius is a great Chinese philosopher, teacher, and politician. Confucius is commonly known as “The great sage and the first teacher” (至圣先师, Zhì shèng xiān shī). The birthday of Confucius is traced back to September 28th, around 551 BC to 479 BC. Therefore Confucius’ birthday is adopted as the origin of the teacher’s day in Taiwan.



Confucius and Confucianism’s Influence in Chinese Culture

The founder of Confucianism (儒家, Rújiā), Confucius’ philosophy emphasizing personal morals, sincerity, righteousness,  and justice not only influent Chinese countries but also spread to Korea, Japan, South-Eastern Asia, Vietnam, etc. These near countries are also known as part of “Sinosphere.” As a famous and respectful educator, it’s been said that Confucius has disciples of three thousand, among which 72 of them are mastered, well-known and also influential in Chinese history.

The disciples of Confucius also play important roles for collecting and recording down Confucius’ teaching contents, his philosophy, speeches and interactions with his students. One of the most important and classic collections is The Analects, or “Analects of Confucius” (论语, Lúnyǔ).


Chinese Confucianism collections – The Four Books and Five Classics

teacher's day in china

The Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism.

Chinese students study quotes, passages, and stories from Confucianism, mostly in the Four Books and Five Classics (四书五经, Sìshū wǔjīng). The Analects, of course, is one of them in the Four Books category. There are also other famous Chinese philosophers whose sayings are also classic in these Confucianism collections. Confucius’ speech cultivates Chinese’ ethical concepts and virtues.


The Five Virtues of Chinese Confucianism

Briefly speaking, the core ethical concepts in Confucianism focus on the five virtues:

teacher's day in china

The five virtues of Confucianism (the order: from right to left; in traditional Chinese characters.)

仁 (Rén) – kindness, generosity. Ex.: “仁慈 (Réncí)” means “benevolence.”

义 (Yì) – righteousness to do good and keep promises. Ex.: “义气 (Yìqì)” usually means the strong support and                        promises between true friends.  

礼 (Lǐ) – politeness, good manners, follow the rules of rituals. Ex.: 礼仪 (Lǐyí) means “manners.”

智 (Zhì) – wisdom, be reasonable enough to tell right and wrong. Ex.: 智慧 (Zhìhuì) means “wisdom.”

信 (Xìn) – faithfulness, trust. Ex.: 信仰 (Xìnyǎng) means “belief”, and 相信 (xiāngxìn) means “to believe.”

Not only knowledge, Confucius educated his students, as well as gave his legacy to all Chinese descendants about being virtuous well beings. Let’s see some of the short and common quotes of Confucius.

Well-Known Confucius Quotes (Chinese, Pinyin, and English)

  About moral concepts

         1. “己所不欲,勿施于人。”

         (Jǐ suǒ bù yù, wù shī yú rén)

         “What you do not want to have for yourself, do not do to others.”

         2. “人不知而不愠,不亦君子乎?”

          (Rén bùzhī ér bù yùn, bù yì jūnzǐ hū?)

          “A person feels no anger when others don’t see his talents, isn’t this person a virtuous man?”

          3. 子曰:君子喻于义,小人喻于利。

           (Jūnzǐ yùyúyì, xiǎo rén yù yú lì.)

           “The Master said, “The mind of the virtuous man is all about righteousness; while the mean man always think              about benefits and gains.”

   About Confucius’ teaching styles

          1. 子曰: “有教无类。”

             (Zǐ yuē: Yǒu jiào wú lèi)

            “The Master said, “When I’m teaching students, there’s no distinction of classes.”

          2. “因材施教”

              (Yīn cái shī jiào)

             “Teaching students with differently based on their aptitude.”

   About learning attitude

         1. “学而不思则罔,思而不学则殆。”

          (Xué ér bù sī zé wǎng, sī ér bù xué zé dài.)

       “Learning without thinking leads to confusion,  thinking without learning leads to danger (in education progress).”

        2. “敏而好学,不耻下问。”

         (Mǐn ér hào xué, bù chǐ xià wèn.)

      “(Students are) sharp and interested in learning. Do not be ashamed of asking and learning from the inferiors.”

About the importance of friends

  1. “益者三友。友直,友谅,友多闻,益矣。”

(Yì zhě sānyǒu. Yǒuzhí, yǒu liàng, yǒu duō wén, yì yǐ)

“There are three kinds of friends that are advantageous. Friends of upright, sincere, and knowledgeable, these

are advantageous friendships.”

       2. 三人行,必有我师焉,择其善者而从之,其不善者而改之。

           (Sān rénxíng, bì yǒu wǒ shī yān, zé qí shàn zhě ér cóng zhī, qí bùshàn zhě ér gǎi zhī.)

       “When three of us walk together, my accompanies might be my teachers. I see someone with good qualities, I’ll          follow them and learn; with bad qualities, I’ll avoid or correct bad qualities on myself.

About politeness

teacher's day in china

Master Kong talked about “politeness” and “manners.”

        1. 非礼勿视,非礼勿听,非礼勿言,非礼勿动。

           (Fēilǐ wù shì, fēilǐ wù tīng, fēilǐ wù yán, fēilǐ wù dòng.)

          “Do not look at what is not propriety; do not listen to what is not propriety; don’t speak about what is  not propriety, and don’t make no movement that is not propriety.”


How do we celebrate Chinese Teacher’s Day

Normally if we think of the celebration, “day-off” comes to our mind. However, Chinese Teacher’s Day does not have a day-off! People may ask, why not take a day off on Teacher’s Day? Well, I think it has a pretty good reason.

teacher's day in china

On this day, appreciate your teachers!

1. Simple celebration

On Teacher’s Day (and also a normal school day), students can express their thanks to their teachers in person. Sending flowers, cards, and celebrating with classmates and teachers are the typical ways to celebrate. In addition, some schools would also hold their own funny activities, a chance to interact with teachers, giving appreciation to the hard-working and caring teachers. This is a day students should give most of their respect and thoughtfulness to their teachers.

2. The Ceremony of Confucius

Also, in some temples in Taiwan, there would be “Grand Ceremony of Confucius” (祭孔大典, Jì kǒng dàdiǎn) to celebrate this festival. As mentioned, the day September 28th is believed to be Confucius’ birthday. Therefore, in some big Confucius Temples would have lively and vigorous ceremony includes drum beats, welcome the spirits, initial principle presentation, and the most iconic dance – “Eight Square formation dance” (八佾舞, Bā yì wǔ). The dancers would be led by the chief descendant of Confucius.

Here’s the video of the ceremony of Confucius in Taipei Confucius Temple. Full introduction with both Chinese and English subtitles included.

Now you have a basic understanding about Chinese iconic educator Confucius, his famous quotes, and also how Chinese people celebrate teacher’s day. Is there any different way to celebrate teacher’s day in your countries? Speaking of holidays, do you know that Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is coming soon on October 4th, 2017? Don’t miss our blog article introducing this important festival to you!

If you are interested in Chinese culture, don’t forget to follow us on TutorMandarin Chinese language blog, where we’ll update articles of all topics. As always, We’ll see you very soon!


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