Confucian writings on ritual from the classical period (ca 8th-3rd centuries BCE), including instruction manuals, codes of conduct, and treatises on the origins and function of ritual in human life, are impressive in scope and repay careful engagement. These texts maintain that ritual participation fosters social and emotional development, helps persons deal with significant life events such as marriages and deaths, and helps resolve political disagreements. These early sources are of interest not only to historians and Sinologists, but also to philosophers and social scientists; they contain enduring insights into the nature and status of rituals more generally. This chapter surveys classical Confucian theories of the origins and functions of ritual, and summarizes some strident critiques of them from contemporary thinkers in the Mohist, Daoist, and Legalist schools of thought. The aim is to indicate key issues as well as promising strategies for analyzing ritual in Confucian thought and action.