The Attic Festival Calendar

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The festival calendar I follow is based on the Attic festival calendar, which is a lunisolar calendar used by the ancient Athenians to determine their holidays.  The first thing to remember is that unlike today, when our day begins at midnight, the Attic day begins at sunset.  This is important to keep in mind each year when I calculate my festival calendar, because the Attic day begins the night before the current day in the Gregorian calendar.


Each Attic month begins with the first sighting of the crescent moon after the new moon.  This day is referred to as Noumenia.  The year begins with the first Noumenia after the summer solstice.  Tying the cycle of lunar months to a fixed point in the solar year allows for each month to fit somewhat within a certain season, with some variation.  There are typically twelve Attic lunar months, listed here in order:















Because a cycle of twelve lunar months is eleven days short of a solar year, there is a thirteenth intercalated month about every three years.  This extra month is a repeat of the sixth month in early winter, known as Poseideon Beta, also rendered Poseideon B or Poseideon 2 in modern calculations of the calendar.


Because the moon orbits the earth in 29.5 days, each Attic lunar month has either 29 or 30 days.  The months with 30 days are called full, and the months with 29 days are called hollow.  Each full month is further divided into three "weeks" of ten days, or in the case of hollow months, two ten-day weeks and a third week of nine days.  The last day of each Attic month, when the moon is dark, is called Hene Kai Nea, which translates to "the old and the new."


A cycle of four Attic years is grouped as an Olympiad, which corresponds to the four-year cycle of the Pan-Hellenic Olympic Games.

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A number of days in each Attic month are sacred to certain gods and heroes:


Noumenia: the first day of each Attic month is sacred to Selene, Apollon Noumenios, Zeus Ktesios, Zeus Herkeios, Hestia, and other household gods and spirits.  This is also a day many modern practitioners of Hellenic polytheism choose to fill the kathiskos, a jar of various food items which serves as the household altar to Zeus Ktesios (an aspect of Zeus that guards the pantry and brings prosperity in the form of a bountiful food supply).


The second day of each Attic month is sacred to the Agathos Daimon, a serpentine household spirit that protects the house itself.  The typical offering to the Agathos Daimon is a libation of unmixed wine (Greeks typically drank wine diluted with water) after the last meal of the day, poured directly onto an earthen floor.  In my modern house, I keep a libation bucket to receive this offering.


The third day is sacred to Athena, and a common offering to this goddess is a libation of olive oil.


The fourth day is sacred to Aphrodite, Eros, Herakles, and Hermes.


The fifth day is sacred to the Erinyes, Horkos, and Eris.  Fifth days were considered unlucky, and the Athenians were hesitant to conduct major business or swear oaths on these days.  This also includes the fifteenth and twenty-fifth days of the month.


The sixth and twenty-sixth days are sacred to Artemis, and the seventh and twenty-seventh days are sacred to her twin brother, Apollon.


The eighth day is sacred to Poseidon, Asklepios, and the hero Theseus.


The ninth day is sacred to the Titan-Queen Rhea, Helios, and the nine Mousai (Muses).


The eleventh day is sacred to the three Moirai (Fates).


The seventeenth day is sacred to Apollon, Asklepios, and Demeter.


Hene Kai Nea, the last day of the Attic month (either the twenty-ninth or thirtieth day) is sacred to Hekate and the dead.  Hekate's deipnon (supper) offering is made at the end of this day, typically left at a crossroads.  Household shrines and altars are traditionally swept on this day, and the dust and debris is collected and given in offering to Hekate, either at a crossroads or upon a grave.  Food and drink offerings to ancestors and other spirits of the dead are also appropriate.  Many modern practitioners choose this last day of the month to empty their kathiskos jar as part of the cleaning of household shrines.

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