The Holy Days Calendar of


Athenian Calendar

27 Hekatombaion

The Basket-carrying
(Arrephoria Festival)

28 Hekatombaion

The Panathenaea Festival
(Athena Festival)

September 13

The Festival of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva
(Capitoline Triad Festival)

15-21 Boedromion

The Great Mysteries
(Eleusinian Festival)

7 Pyanespion

The Vintage Festival
(Oschophoria Festival)

30 Pyanespion

The Artisans Festival
(Chalkeia Festival)

March 19-24

The Mars and Minerva Festival
(Quinquatrus Festival)

25-27 Thargelion

The Cleansing Festival
(Plynteria and Kallynteria Festival)

12 Skirophorion

The Threshing Festival
(Skira Festival)

June 13

The Festival of Minerva
(Minor Quinquatrus)

The Basket-carrying (Arrephoria Festival)

    During the night preceding the Panathenaia there took place the mysterious basket-carrying (an Arrephoria), two servants leave with a locked basket. They left the Acropolis via an underground stairway which led northwest into the Aglaureion. The maidens, however, had to bend from this path eastward, and there they came upon the sacred precinct of "Aphrodite in the Garden". The cavern was a sanctuary of Aphrodite and Eros and full of cultic monuments to both of these Deities, among them stone phalluses and representations of the divine child Eros. After the maidens had returned to the sanctuary of the virgin Athena, carrying another and again mysterious burden, they were removed from service and others were chosen to replace them. (AVM 85)

The Panathenaea Festival

The Festival of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva

   The Ides (full moon) of every month are sacred to Jupiter, as the Kalends (new moon) are to Juno.
   The Festival of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva is celebrated on the September 13, ancient Id. Sept. (full moon).
   This day is an Epulum (feast) for the Capitoline Triad  (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), so statues of the three deities are present,  dressed in festal robes, and represent Their attendance at the feast.
   The  face of Jupiter's image is reddened with minium (red lead) and He reclines on lectulus (couch); Juno and Minerva sit on sellae (chairs).

The Great Mysteries (Eleusinian Festival)

   The festival begins on the full moon and continues to the third quarter. Ancient:15-21 Boedromion.
   Preparations begin two days before the Mysteries proper (13 Boedromion): on the 13th mounted Epheboi (Youths) travel to Eleusis and on the 14th they accompany Ta Hiera (the Holy Things), contained in round Sacred Kistai (boxes) bound with purple ribbons, which are brought by wagon to Athens, where they  are received at the shrine (Eleusinion).
   An official, the Phaidruntes (Cleaner) of the  Two Goddesses (Demeter and Persephone), reports their arrival to Athena's priestess (as at the Skira, 12 Skiraphorion, Athena's priestess pays her respects to Demeter's).

The Vintage Festival (Oschophoria Festival)

   Shoots of the vine carried in a race from Dionysos' temple to the sanctuary of Athena Skira, for the grape harvest is one aspect of Her concern for the well-being of the community . This holiday was founded by Theseus when he returned from Crete.

The Artisans Festival (Chalkeia Festival)

   The ultimate purpose of the Panatenaic procession is to bring a newly woven robe or peplos to the Goddess Athena. This peplos (robe) is begun nine months before at the festival known as the Chalkeia.
   On this day the Ergastinai (Workers), comprising the priestess and two of the four girls between the ages of seven and eleven known as the arrhephoroi are chosen to begin the weaving of the robe.
   The wool is placed on the loom for the woof of Athena's new peplos (robe), which will be woven for nine months and will be presented to Her in the Panathenaia.
   The cult statue of Athena is actually dressed in this robe, ten months later at the festival known as the Plynteria. (WA 185)

The Mars and Minerva Festival (Quinquatrus)

   This is a spring equinox festival in which Mars and Minerva are honored in March 19-24 (Ancient: XIV-X Kal. Apr.)
   Though named for Mars, March is under the protection of Minerva, and the first day of the Quinquatrus is especially sacred to Her because it is Her birthday; therefore no bloodshed is permitted on that day, though She likes to see martial contests on the following days.
   Ovid exhorts practitioners of every  art to pray to Minerva for knowledge and skill; here is an abridged version:

Pray now to Pallas, boys and tender girls; whoever wins Her favor will be skilled, for She's the Goddess of a Thousand Works.

[LEM 207; OF III.809-34; SFR 92-4]

The Cleansing Festival (Plynteria and Kallynteria)

   In the cleansing festival, Athena's wooden image receives several kinds of attention. There are two stages, the Plynteria, "Washing (rites)", and the Kallynteria, "Adorning (rites)".
   This elaborated ceremonial cleansing is peculiar to Athena, to the image that is both a scion of Zeus and a talisman for the community. Statues of other deities are cherished and solicited in many ways, but any cleaning and adorning do not constitute a whole festival.
   On 25 Thargelion, the image is undressed and veiled, and the robe is washed.
   A day or two later, on 26 or 27 Thargelion, when the robe is dry, the image is bathed and then dressed again and adorned. The image's "adornment", kosmos, include some cosmetic procedures, anointing the image with oil, and adding a crown and a necklace. (WA 49)

The Threshing Festival (Skira Festival)

   The Skiraphoria (also known as the Skira) occurs at the time of the cutting and threshing of the grain on the 12 Skiraphorion.
   The Priestess of Athena, the Priest of Poseidon and the Priest of Helios go to the Skiron, a place sacred to Demeter, Kore, Athena Skiras and Poseidon Pater, for here Athens and
Eleusis were reconciled.
   Athena and Poseidon represent city life, and Demeter and Kore represent agriculture; Helios witnesses Their oaths (as He witnessed the abduction of Kore).
   The Skiron is where, according to tradition, the first sowing took place.A large, white canopy (called the skiron) is carried over the priests' and priestesses' heads during the

The Festival of Minerva (Minor Quinquatrus)

   Read by yourself what Ovid reports about this day: (Ovid, Fasti, VI. 651-710)



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