Antike Griechische Feste

Ancient Greek Festivals

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Dedication: Adonis ,

Date : Held annually

Adonis a young hunter whom Aphrodite loved, but who died tragically. Mostly young women celebrate his death and rebirth, by planting seeds in shallow soil, growing flowers that grow fast but die young.

From Life of Alcibiades, Plutarch: „After the people had adopted this motion and all things were made ready for the departure of the fleet, there were some unpropitious signs and portents, especially in connection with the festival, namely, the Adonia“.

Painting of a vase from the British Museum: Women use a ladder to decorate the roofs of their houses with pots with flowers for the Adonia festival

Adonia festival, Louvre

Actia (Ἀκτία).

A Roman festival celebrated every three years at Actium in Epirus, with wrestling, horseracing, and sea-fights, in honour of Apollo. There was a celebrated temple of Apollo at Actium, which is mentioned by Thucydides and Strabo. After the defeat of Antony off Actium, Augustus enlarged the temple, and instituted games to be celebrated every four years in commemoration of his victory.

Aeacea (Αἰάκεια).

A festival of the Aeginetans in honor of Aeacus , the details of which are unknown.

Aeantea (Αἰάντεια).

A festival solemnized at Salamis in honour of Ajiax, of which no particulars are known.


Athenian festival in honour of Agraulos (daughter of Cecrops)

Agrionia ,

Dedication: Dionysus ,

City : Orchomenus ,

Date : Held annually

Orchomenus was the city of the mythical king, Minyas, where his daughters were all driven mad, devouring their children. It was a punishment for not believing or worshiping Dionysus as a god. The festival used to involve with the priest killing a woman who was descendant of Minyas. During Dionysus’s festival, Agrionia, women would break away from their responsibilities and go into a state of madness.


Dedication: Icarius and Erigone

City : Athens

Date : Held at grape harvest

The Aiora or "Swinging" commemorate the death of Erigone and her father of Icarius. Erigone had hanged herself when she discovered her father's body. Icarius was a follower of Dionysus, so the wine god punished Athens causing madness upon young Athenian girls, where they too hanged themselves, until the murderers were punished. Athens instituted the festival during the grape harvest, where girls swung on ropes.

Anthesteria (Ανθεστήρια) or Ta Arkhaiotera Dionysia (The More Ancient Dionysia)

Dedication: Dionysus Dionysos Anthios (the Blooming God)

City : Athens


Date : 11-13 Anthesterion

Anthesteria was a three day long festival. Dionysus’s representation made it’s entrance into the festival on a large ship on wheels. Heavy drinking went on throughout the entire festival. The festival was actually kicked off with a drinking contest

The First Day: Pithoigia (Jar-opening) (Πυθοίγια)

The Second Day: Khoes (Pitchers) (Χόες )

The Third Day: Khutroi (Pots) (Χύτροι)

Among the serious crimes that fell to the Areopagus were certain kinds of sacrilege. One example we know of had to do with a woman who had served as a priestess for the festival of Athesteria... In this case, the woman was married to an Athenian named Theogenes, and it became known that she was not herself properly an Athenian citizen (Dem. 59.81). The matter was investigated by the Areopagus, “which in other matters also is of high worth to the city in what pertains to piety” (Dem. 59.80). According to Apollodorus, the Areopagus was initially inclined to impose “the highest fine in its power” (ἐζημίου sigma;α κυρία ἐστιν) on Theogenes for allowing his wife to serve as priestess under false pretenses (Dem. 59.81), but they relented because Theogenes convinced them that he had been deceived, and meant no harm (Theogenes immediately expelled his wife from his house) (Dem. 59.83). Christopher W. Blackwell, “The Council of the Areopagus,” in C.W. Blackwell, ed., Dēmos: Classical Athenian Democracy (A. Mahoney and R. Scaife, edd., The Stoa: a consortium for electronic publication in the humanities []) edition of January 26, 2003. Contact:

More Information

Attic red-figure Oinoche used for the Athenian festival of Anthesteria

Apatouria (Απατούρια)

Date : 26-28 Pyanepsion?

Cup Apatouria ? Louvre G138

festival annually in Athens and all lonian towns except Ephesus and Colophon for the Phratria (brotherhood, male members assumed to be descended from the same male ancestor). Young boys before taking part in the “koureion” ceremony by cutting their hair where considered as ephebe, old enough to start their military education. Also also the young children (only boys) were introduced into one group at the age of 3 years. (one of the three main events : birth, koureion and marriage) this was done. (Name of the 3 days: of the festival: Dorpeia, Anarrhysis, Kureotis)

Apatouria or

Aphrodisia (Αφροδίσια)

Dedication: Aphrodite Pandemos (all people) and Peitho (Persuasion)

Date : 4-th Hecatombaion

Festival of Aphrodite, according to P. Rubens

In honor of Aphrodite, sacrifice of the dove (Aphrodite's bird), Myrtle tree, sea shells and roses. Dancing and athletic games.

Ariadnia (Ἀριάδνεια). Festivals held in honour of Ariadne in Naxos, and also in Cyprus.

Arrephoria or Arretophoria (Αρρηφόρια)

Date : 3rd or 5th Skirophorion

(τὰ ἀρρηφόρια). A festival which, according to the various ways in which the name is written (for we find ἐρσηφόρια or ἐρρηφόρια), is attributed to different deities. The first form is derived from ἄρρητα, and thus would indicate a festival at which mysterious things were carried about. The other name would point to Ersé or Hersé, who was believed to be a daughter of Cecrops, and whose worship was intimately connected with that of Athené. But, even admitting the latter, we still have sufficient ground for believing that the festival was solemnized, in a higher sense, in honour of Athené. It was held at Athens, in the month of Scirophorion.

From a PAGAN website:

Two young girls, the Arrephoroi who are the ritual daughters of the Arkhon Basileus (Priest-King), have spent the preceding year living by the temple of Athena Polias. Some say they have been weaving a new peplos (robe) for Athena, which they will bring to Her in the sacred procession (see Panathenaia). In a secret nocturnal rite, the Priestess gives the Arrephoroi a package, the contents of which are hidden from all three. They take the package by a secret path to the sanctuary of Aphrodite in the Gardens, and bring back another secret package. Thereafter the Arrephoroi are replaced by two new girls. This rite recalls when Athena gave the casket containing Erichthonios to the daughters of King Kekrops, who acted as nurses. Two of them disobeyed Her order not to look in the casket, and when they saw the serpent-man they jumped to their deaths from the Acropolis. The name of the faithful nurse was Pandrosos (All-dew), or, according to others, the two self-sacrificing daughters were Pandrosos and Herse (which also means Dew). (The festival's name might also be spelled Ersephoria - Dew Carrying.) The olive tree, which was Athena's special gift to Athens, bears small olives if there is not sufficient dew at this time of year. Aphrodite, as Goddess of the Morning and Evening Star, was responsible for the dew, and so Her cooperation was essential. The Arrephoroi wear white robes and eat Anastatos (Made-to-rise), a special light bread.

Artemisia and other local Artemis festivals (Sparta):

(τὰ Ἀρτεμίσια). Arthemis Korythalia, Artemis Orthia, Artemis Eileithyias, Artemis Karyatis


Asklepios, god of healing

Date : 9th Elaphebolion

(τὰ Ἀσκλεπίεια). Festivals celebrated in places where temples of Asclepius existed, and of which the most celebrated was that of Epidaurus, held every fifth year, nine days after the Isthmian Games. See Schol. ad Nem.iii. 145; Pausan. ii. 26. 7.

Ancient Greek Festivals

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