Kiss the sky: China's heaven worship ceremony to celebrate winter solstice Published: 2014-1-8 15:39:00

          About Heaven Worship


The custom of heaven worship dates back to Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC – 221 BC). According to experts, heaven worship was standardized in the Tang Dynasty (618 -907) and was considered the most important ceremony to mark the winter solstice.

The last leader to pay tribute at Beijing's Temple of Heaven is Yuan Shikai, president of the Republic of China (1912- 49), who appointed himself emperor of the Hong Xian Dynasty in 1915. Yuan led his cabinet members in China's last official heaven worship ceremony on December 23, 1914. After Yuan died, the government of the Republic of China cancelled future ceremonies, ending 3,000 years of state heaven worship.


The sacrificial ceremony reflected the importance of heaven and earth in Chinese culture. The emperors paid tribute to the heavens in the hopes they would bestow good weather and a plentiful harvest the following year.

●How many times did emperors worship heaven in a year?

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) emperors conducted the ceremony once a year, while emperors in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) worshipped heaven three times in a year.

Source: Agencies


          Worshipping Sites

The largest sacred place of worship

The Temple is a complex of Taoist buildings. Temple of Heaven boasts as the largest ancient sacred place of worship in China. In ancient times, Temple of Heaven was the venue where emperors used to visit every winter to worship Heaven.
Longer history

Boasting a longer history than its Beijing counterpart, the Temple of Heaven in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province was built during the Sui Dynasty (518 – 618). It was used by Tang emperors for 300 years, helping it earn the name "Tang Temple of Heaven".

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          Performance Photos

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