Holidays are something I’ve not quite got a handle on yet. I’ve got ideas and thoughts about most of them, but actually getting down to celebrating them…eghh. That doesn’t happen as often as it should.
And now that I’m back to making a real, solid attempt at the Dedicant’s Path for ADF, I really should figure out what my ADF holidays are going to be.
Shouldn’t that be simple? you ask. Don’t they give you a list?
Well, yes, they do. But I’m following the Hellenic Hearth Culture and I don’t want to use the “standard Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year” because three of the four fire festivals are reserved for my Sacred Triad, and it just feels wrong. ADF does tell me which Hellenic festivals can be used for each of the 8 main feasts required for the DP’s documentation, but I’m having some issues.
According to their list Skira is celebrated at the Summer Solstice, and it’s also considered to be the time when Kore descends to the Underworld. Apparently now is the barren time in Greece, and therefore when Kore is in the Underworld.
The ADF list of Hellenic Holidays:
- August Feast: The Panathenaia.
- Autumn Equinox: The Eleusinian Mysteries.
- November Feast: The Thesmophoria.
- Winter Solstice: The Oreibasia.
- February Feast: The Anthesteria.
- Spring Equinox: The City or Greater Dionysia.
- May Feast: Thargelia.
- Summer Solstice: Skira.
This does not work for me. At all. I’m sure it worked just fine in Greece, but I live in British Columbia. Our barren time starts around the Autumnal Equinox and goes to about the Spring Equinox (plant growth varies every year, but it’s friggin cold during those months regardless). And I cannot follow a holiday schedule that says that Kore is in the Underworld when it’s sunny and there are plants everywhere and I’m sneezing.
So I’m flipping some stuff around. I have to, or I’ll go nuts. (Nuttier than before, anyway.)
Here’s my tentative plans for Hellenic ADF holidays for the next year:
Summer Solstice: Greater Dionysia. Ish. Obviously I can’t recreate the civic holiday, but I can do something. As the new moon is tonight and I’d planned on having summer new moons being ritual time for Dionysos, I may just have the solstice be His time and maybe do a Noumenia for the new moon. Ugh, I’m so confused.
August feast: the Panathenaia. This is in honor of Athena, and it’s from August 10th-18th this year (this one is still in the ‘right’ place).
Autumn Equinox: Skira and/or Kore’s descent. I’ve been having trouble finding corroboration to ADF’s claim that Skira is actually when Kore descends, so this is subject to change. Skira is also considered the new year time, but I won’t be celebrating that aspect of it. For me, new year is on August 14th (my birthday) and that’s not subject to change anytime soon. (I also celebrate the secular new year’s, because my friends do
and it’s a party with booze.)
November-ish feast: Thesmophoria. This is also in the right place, for some odd reason (this is where ADF put it). Thesmophoria is a festival for Demeter celebrating the time when She abstains from Her duties as grain goddess and the world starves. According to HMEPA, it’s from October 26th-29th this year.
Winter Solstice: the Oreibasia? This is how it’s listed in the ADF dedicant’s manual but I can’t find any reference to it elsewhere. I can find reference to a Lenaia, which sounds…exactly the same, honestly, and that is supposed to be from January 23rd-27th in 2013. Soooo I may just wing a maenad-ish celebration in honor of Dionysos for Winter Solstice.
February feast: Anthesteria, again in the right place. I sort of celebrated this earlier this year; it was short notice so I didn’t do much. But next year I’ll do a proper shindig. It’s listed as occurring from February 21st to 24th, 2013.
Spring Equinox: Eleusinian Mysteries/Kore returns. This actually works quite well with the placement of Spring Mysteries Fest, so.
May feast: Thargelia. In honor of Apollo and Artemis; falls on May 15-17th, 2013.
I’m stressing a lot about this and probably way more than I should. I’ve always had issues with the standard “Wheel of the Year” though, and this looks like a calendar I could really…get into. So long as I celebrate Kore’s ascent and descent at the right times, of course.
I don’t know. Does anyone with a better grasp of the Hellenic holidays have any comments? Am I totally fucking everything up with my reorganization? Is Skira associated with Kore’s descent at all, or could I conceivably just have it at the right time? Should I just celebrate the holidays as they list them and add in my own things about Kore’s descent and return?
Augh I’m so confused and Summer Solstice is tomorrow what am I going to doooooo. *flails*
In the Attic calendar, Skira takes place before the Pananthenaia; likewise, it’s centered around Athene, not Kore. The procession does lead to a shrine just outside Eleusis, so Kore and Demeter are involved, but it’s not about her descent. Skira is part of the annual new year cycle of rituals; the Pananthenia is the culmination, in the Attic calendar. Per Burkert’s ‘Greek Religion’. Skira is also an explicitly women’s festival, so it’s… unusual that it’d be included as a generic (for lack of a better word) festival.
The only references to ‘Oreibasia’ I can find are all from a work of fiction, ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt. The word means ‘mountaineering’, so I suspect it’s just a new name for the Lenaia.
As for Kore- I’m finding references to the Katagoge festival out of Syracuse; Nilsson in ‘Greek Popular Religion’ calls it a festival of her descent, and Burkert in ‘Greek Religion’ calls it a festival of her ascent. It appears to be a spring festival, so I’m inclined towards Burkert. ‘Katagoge’ itself seems to mean origin, extraction, according to the internet. 😉 There’s also the Koragia in Mantineia.
Parker indicates in ‘On Greek Religion’ that there were no festivals regarding her descent, despite the importance of it in myth. If you want to include something regardless, it looks like most of Greece considered her stay in Hades to be half the year, except the Athenians, who said it was only a third of the year.
I’m so glad you replied! You are lovely. Thank you for these answers. I’m still new to the Hellenic…thing and just felt totally lost. 🙂
So tomorrow will have me celebrating Skira like normal. I think the only change I’ll make to the calendar is that I’ll be doing the Mysteries during Spring, when I got to Spring Mysteries Fest. Kind of hard to recreate a mysteries festival by oneself. 😉 I’ll do some sort of celebration to do with Kore’s descent, then, at Autumn Equinox, and celebrate Her return at Spring.
Problems solved! Thank you!
I flail at cultural stuff all the time. I would be lost without my books!
Good luck with the calendar, I hope it works out for you!
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