Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pyanopsion- The Ancient Greek Lunar Month of October - November

With Halloween in the rearview mirror and Thanksgiving just ahead, it is a great time to peer into past Greek festivals and celebrations.

PYANOPSION is the Ancient Greek lunar month of roughly October to November. The Greeks observed three major festivals during this time.

Thesmophoria, occuring from the 11th to the 13th of Pyanopsian, honored Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The festival celebrated the third of the year in which Demeter abstained from her Goddess of Harvest role in mourning of Persepone's return to the Underworld. Married Athenian women celebrated with a feast and ritualized bathing to promote fertility. Read more here.

Oschophoria was a wine-pressing festival honoring Dionysus. The Mysteries of Dionysus were also held. The biggest attraction was a procession where young men would carry vines still bearing grapes. Behind them, a chorus sang hyms to the God of the Vine. Read more here.

Apaturia commemorated a single combat between Melanthus, representing King Thymoetes of Attica, and King Xanthus of Boeotia, in which Melanthus successfully threw his adversary off his guard by crying that a man in a black goat skin (identified as Dionysus) was helping him. Zeus and Athena presided over this four day festival during which the revelry was so intense, that the fourth day was used simply to rest and recoup. Read more here.

Pyanopsia honored Apollo and was held in Athens. The Greek hero Theseus began this ritual by first honoring Apollo for his assistance in helping him defeat the legendary Minotaur.
For more on the minotaur, check out this post: Many Shades of Minotaur- Grabbing Art By The Horns