Originally, the Jongmyo Jerye, or Royal Ancestral Memorial Rite, was held five times a year - once at each season as well as an annual sacrificial day. It was also performed at auspicious events or in times of national crisis. Now it is held on the first Sunday of May. At this time, songs praising the virtues of the kings are sung, accompanied by music and dance. Two pieces were later refined- the Botaepyeong and Jeongdaeeop, extolling the desire for spiritual unity between the king and its people, as well as for the nation’s prosperity. The entire ritual is complex, solemn and rigidly conformist with specific details. It contains three parts according to Confucian principals; welcoming the spirits, entertaining those spirits, and then ushering the spirits away to heaven.
Korea is the only country amongst the Confucian states in Asia that has preserved its royal shrine and continues to perform the royal ancestral rites.