Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Modern Hellenic Festival Possibilities

Last night I was reading through back issues of He Epistle, Neokoroi's magazine. (Neokoroi is a Hellenic polytheist org, and for the record I am not a member) In each issue it listed descriptions of festivals taking place in that season, and the dates. I got thinking about how to adapt things to my own lifestyle, region etc.

When I first got into Hellenic Polytheism, I was reading Greek Religion by Walter Burkert and remember being pretty overwhelmed by all the festivals. I mean, don't get me wrong I love holidays, but it isnt really possible to observe them all. We all lead busy lives and of course we have to fit in among people (family, employers etc) who don't celebrate them, won't give us days off etc. In addition, I use the Neo-Pagan 8 holiday Wheel of Year even though it's Not Properly Hellenic as that's what I'm used to and I'm also Celtic.

So I'm trying to figure out what to celebrate and how in a way that is workable for me. Maybe some of these ideas will work for other people, or not. Take it as you will- and please share- how do you do your holidays?

1. Regional Climate- I live in Minnesota- the climate, plant/wildlife and agricultural cycle is a lot different. Heck it's even considerably different than the British Isles- but the Mediterranean is an even bigger leap. If I lived in say, Florida it might be a bit closer. But anyways, to me it makes sense to rearrange the holidays a bit so they fit seasonally.

2. Lunar vs. Solar Calendars I find it really confusing to keep track of festivals using a lunar calendar- while my 8 holidays are solar. So I'm just going to "cheat" and pick fixed solar dates, unless the festival relates specifically to a moon phase.

3. Wheel of the Year- I was thinking of either spacing festivals among the 8, or arranging holidays thematically- i.e. festivals of the dead near Samhain, etc.
Kronia- this is a harvest holiday honoring Kronos- near the end of July- close to Lughnasadh/Lammas.

4. Civic/Local Holidays- Since ancient Greek festivals were very localized, and we're not in Athens, Sparta etc. it makes sense to celebrate one's local holidays in a Hellenic fashion. This is esp. nice given how often our civic holidays have so much Greco-Roman imagery around them anyway (architecture etc). I've already seen some folk do this.

Mardi Gras as a Dionysian festival- masks, parades, parties, drinking, sex- need I say more?
Labor Day- in U.S. is in fall, could be celebrated as Khalkeia- festival of smiths, workers, Hephaestus & Athena- a procession is traditional and Labor Day parades are common.
Presidents Day- libations for the presidents
Independence Day- honor Athena, Zeus, founding ancestors, Libertas for the more Roman-inclined.

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